Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

March 2, 2014

Ice, sleet make travel treacherous

Tony Huffman
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — With more ice and sleet than snow falling, road conditions are extremely hazardous throughout Effingham County today.

     In Effingham, .05 inch of ice and .2 inch of sleet were reported this morning and a half inch of sleet and ice in Watson. Crews are working to clear county highways, but secondary roads are still very slick, according to Effingham Sheriff's Deputy Tim Forehand, who has been on patrol since 6 a.m.

     "If you are going to travel today, be very careful and expect delays," he said.

     Although numerous accidents were reported overnight on interstates 57 and 70 when the storm began, Forehand said there have been no accidents reported since 6 a.m. Deputies who responded to the overnight accidents are no longer on duty, therefore, details currently aren't available.

     Forehand warns several areas in the county are very treacherous for vehicle travel.

     "The road going south out of Teutopolis is covered in black ice," said Forehand, of the road commonly known as Teutopolis-Elliotstown Road. "Also, Route 40 from Teutopolis to Effingham is still very slick."

     According to Effingham County Engineer Greg Koester, who coordinates snow and salt trucks for the county, three trucks have been out since last night spreading sand and road salt on hills, curves and intersections. Crews currently are holding off spreading additional materials until later today when another storm surge is expected..

     "We don't want to put down a lot of material and then plow it off if it snows," said Koester.

     While checking county roads, Koester reported that it "seems like about half an inch of freezing rain and sleet has fallen."

    Koester warns that unless the temperature reaches 20 degrees and there is sunshine, the ice won't melt.

     "Hopefully, Mother Nature will help us out," he said.

     In the City of Effingham, Police Chief Mike Schutzbach is reporting that all side streets are completely ice covered and slick. State roadways have been salted and are an ice/slush combination, he added. He is grateful motorists appear to be heeding warnings about troublesome travel.

     "The roads in the city are very scarcely traveled," he said. "Being that it is Sunday, people are evidently staying home out of the weather."

     Schutzbach said that he will monitor the weather and additional officers will be put on duty during Monday morning commute if necessary.

     "We will be out patrolling and looking for motorists that are in distress tomorrow morning," he said.

     City police hadn't responded to any accidents as of Sunday afternoon.

     There were two accidents on the interstate overnight, sending several local people to the hospital.

     At 3 a.m., a southbound vehicle driven by Brianna Haag, 24, of Effingham left the icy roadway and struck the rear-end of a semitrailer on Interstate 57 near milepost 163. According to the Illinois State Police, Haag applied the vehicle's brakes on the curve near the trilevel overpass, leading the vehicle to spin out of control. The vehicle struck the rear-end of a semitrailer, driven by Roger L. Russin, 65, of Lakes Wales Fla., who had already driven into the ditch to avoid another accident in the same location.

     Two of the three passengers in Haag's vehicle were transported to St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital with injuries — Meghan Travis, 27, of Charleston and Nicole Davidson, 24, of Charleston. A third passenger in Haag's vehicle, Ashley Miller, 21, of Effingham had no apparent injuries. Haag was ticketed for traveling too fast for conditions.

    In an earlier accident, Kassidy Kingery, 16, of Teutopolis was traveling southbound on Interstate 57 when the vehicle she was driving exited the roadway to the right near milepost 176, just south of Neoga, at 11:57 p.m. Saturday. Kingery also was transported to St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital with injuries.

     Kingery was ticketed for traveling too fast for conditions.