Icy Thursday night causes few major incidents

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Even as residents spent Friday morning chipping away at ice on windshields and sidewalks, the same slippery blanket caused few headaches for local emergency agencies.

A major property damage accident that caused no injuries was the biggest problem the Putnam County Sheriff's Department dealt with on Thursday night and Friday morning, leading one officer to praise local motorists.

"People were using their heads," Col. Tom Helmer of the sheriff's department said.

The few local incidents that occurred concentrated mainly on the 7 p.m. hour Thursday, shortly after a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain began falling.

County 911 Dispatch Director Dave Costin said his agency took calls for 10 accidents between 6 p.m. Thursday and 8:30 a.m. Friday. Four of these took place in a 30-minute period during the 7 p.m. hour.

The most significant was a collision on U.S. 231 in Fincastle, where a West Lafayette man lost control of his sports car and crossed into the oncoming lane.

At approximately 7:15 p.m., 19-year-old Tu Zhendong was southbound in a 2010 Nissan 370Z. As he entered a curve, he lost control on the ice, sliding into the oncoming lane and the path of the 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix driven northbound by Kelly J. Stevens, 53, Bainbridge.

Both drivers advised Deputy Mike Downing they tried to avoid the accident, but could not.

With Zhendong's car sliding sideways, Stevens car T-boned it in the driver's side door.

After impact, Stevens' Pontiac ended up on its driver's side facing north in the east ditch of U.S. 231. Zhendong's Nissan was wedged under the rear of Stevens' car.

No injuries were reported, but Downing estimated damages between $25,001-$50,000.

The only other accident report available from the Sheriff's Department as of Friday was a one-vehicle slide-off and collision involving a West Terre Haute woman.

At 9:28 p.m. Lt. Dwight Simmons responded to the accident on U.S. 40. Lindsay R. Hendrix, 21, had been eastbound in a 2006 Chrysler Sebring when she lost control.

The car slid off the shoulder and hit a tree before coming to rest in the ditch.

Damage was estimated at $2,501-$5,000.

Besides these, Helmer said most sheriff's department responses were to fairly minor slide-offs.

"Really, it was slick, but they'd slide off and we'd keep them going or just leave it until it dried up a little bit," Helmer said.

No report was available from the Indiana State Police Post at Putnamville, although troopers are reported to have worked a number of accidents in Interstate 70, including one jack-knifed semi.

Costin said one oddity of the night was the number of medical runs local ambulance services responded to during the worst of the weather.

"We mostly had a slew of medical runs for some reason, which I do not believe were strictly weather related," Costin said. "No trauma, just breathing problems and chest pain, with the exception of one fall and possibly one eye problem or injury."

The medical runs began about 9 p.m. with the majority occurring in the early morning hours.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: