A lake-effect snowstorm reached from Lake Michigan into Noble County early in the week, causing chaos among unexpecting drivers who haven't had to drive on snow for awhile. The Noble County Sheriff's Department recorded twenty-seven accidents between noon and 9 p.m. Sunday. Bands of snow, often heavy and accompanied by breezes strong enough to cause drifting, moved southeast and continued to make travel hazardous through the early part of the week.
Minor injuries were reported in three of the crashes. At 1:31 p.m. A driver and children were reported entrapped in a vehicle that collided with another on SR 8, near CR 600 E. The extent of injuries wasn't reported, but Avilla firefighters who arrived first on the scene were able to get the victims free and disregarding responding assistance from the Albion Fire Department. The Noble County EMS, Sheriff's deputies and the Avilla Police Department assisted at the scene.
An Albion Police officer was hurt as he assisted at the scene of a crash south of town. three vehicles had already slid into the ditch at that location, and while police were on the scene another came over a nearby hill and almost hit people on the scene.
The officer, who along with a Conservation Officer was trying to get oncoming traffic slowed down on CR 100 N, near SR 9, reportedly stepped into a hole near the roadway and injured his ankle. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment. Noble County Highway personnel, who had been called out when the roads started getting slippery, sanded the area to prevent another crash.
Another injury was reported when a 2003 Olds slid out of control and turned over onto its side on CR 200 N, near 900 W, at about 7 p.m. that night. Medics and Cromwell fire units were called to the scene but discovered the driver, 51 year old Howard H. Luehrs, was refusing medical treatment. The roadway had to be shut down by police until the vehicle could be turned upright.
Among other crashes around the county Sunday, a vehicle broke a utility pole in half in one of several accidents that happened on Baseline Road during the day. That road also had to be shut down for a time near CR 800 E, while Noble REMC crews repaired the damage. Police, busy going from one slide-off to another, reported traffic going far too fast for conditions on that road, as well as others. In at least three cases, motorists went out of control and crashed while police officers were already on the scene of other accidents nearby.
One of the results of the heavy snow is that four vehicles parked in the Department of Corrections area of Chain O' Lakes State Park were unable to get up a hill to leave the area. Other employees and inmates reportedly assisted with that situation.
Officials are asking citizens to use caution, be patient, and pay attention to media sources for news about weather conditions, delays, and any kind of alerts or emergency declarations. They're reminded not to call 911 if they don't have an emergency -- as one person did Sunday when they dialed the emergency number to ask if highway department trucks were out.