Quick freeze causes wrecks
Black ice had emergency crews scrambling Wednesday afternoon when a string of crashes occurred in Somerset Township. Slick roadways and a pair of icy bridges in the township caused multiple accidents in a 40-minute span. (Philip Petrunak)
Slick roadways and a pair of icy bridges in the township caused multiple accidents in a 40-minute span.
At 3:50 p.m. state police and Somerset ambulance responded to a vehicle rollover along Route 219 near a turnpike overpass. No one was injured during the crash.
Another vehicle overturned at 4:15 p.m. along Route 31 near Technology Drive, according to a Somerset County Control dispatcher. No one was injured.
Emergency crews then responded to a third crash at 4:30 p.m. on the Wills Church bridge along Route 31.
Wanda L. Satzer, 49, Hyndman, was taken to Somerset Hospital after sustaining minor injuries during a two-vehicle collision. Satzer's car collided with a pick-up truck driven by Brian K. Berkey, 46, Friedens.
Somerset fire department and Somerset ambulance responded to the crash along with state police.
"It gets crazy like that sometimes," Somerset fire Chief Gary Thomas said. Thomas said Somerset fire department has received 68 calls since Oct. 1.
"That's pretty busy for a volunteer fire company," Thomas added. "Our people want to help and respond to the calls, and as fire chief I'm thankful for that."
Accuweather Meteorologist Brian Edwards described the slew of accidents as strange, considering the relatively mild precipitation.
"Traditionally you don't get that dramatic freeze (before sunset)," Edwards said. "But the combination of bridge decks (that were) below freezing for several hours and melting snow probably created slick spots."
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation had 24 trucks spreading anti-skid for much of the afternoon and evening. Despite their efforts, PennDOT Somerset County Manager Joe Kelemen said it's impossible for trucks to be everywhere at once.
"People just have to slow down," Kelemen said. "We've had a lot of nice weather (recently) and it seems (drivers) just haven't adjusted to the ice and snow."
Kelemen said the slick roadways were mostly limited to the Somerset area.
"The problem with black ice is that you can't see it," he said. "You'll be traveling along and next thing you know, you've lost control of your vehicle."
Kelemen said drivers need to be wary of bridge decks in particular and areas that freeze quickly.
"We're entering into the winter season," Kelemen added. "Drivers need to proceed with caution."