Blowing Snow Blamed For Numerous Crashes
US 33 was the scene of nine accidents Friday, two of them involving injury. Ongoing problems with snow, cold, and blustery winds -- the edge of the same storm that buried much of the northeastern U.S. under feet of snow or sometimes several inches of heavy rain -- contributed to 29 accidents in Noble County Thursday and Friday.
A driver who crashed near Wolf Lake Friday morning had to be airlifted from the scene, according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. Eric G. Blank, 41, of Columbia City, was northbound at about 11:39 a.m. when he lost control on a curve just north of town, near CR 100S.
Blank's 2008 Toyota Camry hit an area covered with ice and blowing snow and slid off the east side of the road, down an embankment, and into a tree, impacting on the driver's side door. He was trapped inside the totaled car, and had to be extricated by members of the Noble Township Fire Department.
After being freed, Blank was treated by Noble County EMS personnel for complaints of pain to the left side of his body, then flown by Samaritan Helicopter to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne. Thorn Creek firefighters responded to set up a landing zone for the helicopter. Blank's condition at the hospital was not reported.
About six minutes after the first crash was reported a second accident happened at the same curve, while responders were treating Blank. Two vehicles were involved in that collision, but no injuries were reported.
Earlier in the morning another driver was hurt in an accident just north of that location. Alesia L. Igo, 22, complained of neck and knee pain, but refused EMS transportation after being checked by medics at the scene. Igo was reportedly driving a 2000 Infinity that spun out near CR 450 W and went into the ditch, causing damage to the vehicle. Many of the same Sheriff's Department, EMS, and Noble Township Fire Department units were called to both the personal injury incidents.
Also on US 33 Friday morning:
A Chevy Blazer rolled onto its side near CR 50W, at about 4:51 a.m. The driver reportedly needed help getting out of the vehicle, but was not hurt.
A 2005 Chevy suffered damage including a flattened tire when it slid off the road near CR 50S.
Another Chevy Blazer hit a utility pole near Cromwell Road at about 9:53 a.m., snapping the pole off without bringing the wires down.
The same stretch of US 33 near 100S was the scene of another accident Thursday night, when a Kia slid into a tree at about 8 p.m.The highway had to be shut down for about half an hour while the scene was cleared.
State Highway crews were out much of the time late last week and over the weekend, but were frustrated by areas where snow blew back onto roadways and coated them as quickly as they could be cleared. The problem was compounded because large stretches of pavement were dry, lulling drivers into a false sense of security until they would reach a slippery and often drifted area. That contributed to such incidents as a car that slid off SR 8 near Skinner Lake Friday afternoon, smashing a mailbox before it could get stopped. Cars got stuck in drifts in several spots, with one area near county roads 150E and 500 N being the scene of several slide-offs and stuck vehicles. The Noble County Highway Department came out at 5 a.m. Saturday, and worked much of the day.