It took only a couple of inches of snow, on top of rapidly freezing water from recent snow melt, rains, and the resulting flooding, to turn Noble County roads into a skating rink last week.
Thirty-two accidents were reported to the Noble County Sheriff’s Department Wednesday, February 6. Added to that were about two dozen cases in which motorists became stranded after trying to cross areas of high water, often ignoring warning signs to do so. As a result police and wrecker drivers kept hopping, often having to find alternate routes to get around the flooding themselves. Area firefighters and EMS personnel were also busy during the period, responding to accidents and helping with sandbagging details, as flooding hit record levels in Noble County.
As if the flooding wasn’t bad enough, while temperatures dropped snow arrived Wednesday afternoon, causing roads to become extremely slick and hazardous, and sending unsuspecting drivers out of control.
At least two of the crashes reportedly involved injury. A head-on accident on Baseline Road, near CR 200E, resulted in the female driver of a car being trapped in the wreckage, although she was reportedly only slightly injured. The crash happened at about 9:17 p.m. when her car and a pickup were approaching each other and the car reportedly went out of control, spun around, and smashed into the approaching truck before going nose first into a ditch.
Albion firefighters freed the unidentified driver, who was taken to the hospital by Noble County EMS personnel. The Indiana State Police is investigating the crash.
Another driver was reportedly injured when her car slid into a utility pole along CR 300N, about a mile and a half west of Albion, at 4:36 p.m. The 16 year old driver was reportedly treated at the scene for minor injuries; Albion Fire and Noble County EMS personnel also were called to that scene, along with Sheriff’s Deputies and Albion Police.
Some other Albion area accidents Wednesday include a 1997 Mercury that slid into a fence along Albion Road, near CR 200W, at about 4:20 p.m.; a 1998 Ford van that skidded into a Verizon telephone box near SR 9 and CR 600N about five minutes later; and a crash between a 2008 GMC and a 1998 Buick at Baseline Road and CR 300W, which happened at about 8:55 p.m.
At 11:25 p.m. that night a 1996 Dodge driven by 18 year old Amanda K. Goff slid off SR 9, hitting a guardrail near CR 400S and causing damage to that vehicle.
In addition to the wrecks, standing water from the record setting flooding continued to be a problem all week, and roads remained closed over the weekend. The Noble County Highway Department put up about 150 barricades and warning signs, and still didn’t have enough. It didn’t seem to make much difference: Earlier in the week drivers missed the signs because of heavy fog, but later on many simply drove past the barricades, overconfident or misjudging the depth of the water.
CR 600W, south of the LaGrange County line, was a particular problem, as drivers continually braved the flood on that busy road. First one, then another vehicle went into the water and stalled; the water was so deep that the first reportedly floated off the roadway, coming to rest against a fence. A Sheriff’s deputy, posted on one side of the standing water with his car’s flashing lights on, witnessed vehicles approach from the other direction and, ignoring both the warning lights and other stalled cars, simply go on in. Over the course of the day Wednesday, at least a half dozen vehicles stalled out and had to be towed away.
Police found a 2000 GMC completely submerged in a flood at the 300S block of CR 650W. The original report was that the driver went on four hundred feet after going in; police later realized it actually floated a full 400 feet after hitting the water.
Police received reports of at least 12 vehicles stranded in water on Wednesday, and another 6 on Thursday. No injuries were reported, although some of the occupants had to wade through deep water to escape. Officials continue to request that drivers heed the danger and avoid going into standing water, no matter how shallow it might seem.