Winter Snow Storm Brings Fatal Driving Conditions to Missouri

Over night a winter snowstorm hit St. Louis with anywhere between 2-5” of snow. Along with the snow the Missouri State Highway Patrol recorded over 200 snow related roadside calls, and a reported 100+ accidents. The snow began to fall over night, on the eve of January 1, 2014 and continued until the early morning hours the next day. The Missouri Department of Transportation, MoDOT, began clearing major highways and traffic arteries immediately. Most of the major highways in the St. Louis metropolitan area were cleared, although howling winds presented a major obstacle for MoDOT snow plow drivers. The howling winds that accompanied the blistering snow storm, scattered snow along the sections of road that the snow plow drivers had already cleared. When the sun rose on January 2, 2014, it started to melt some of the surface snow.

The heavy winds that accompanied the snowstorm scattered snow flurries that were melted and re-froze quickly due to the sub-freezing temperatures. This created extremely hazardous driving conditions for many of the secondary roadways. Secondary roadways are considered to be anything other than major highways and interstates. Local roads like Manchester were patchy in some areas, but for the most part remained clear and steady, but slow moving traffic was the story of the morning.

Even with a 4WD vehicle, driving in the snow can still be fatal

At 8:05 am this morning, an accident involving two men was reported in Madison County. Charles Gillenwater, 69, and Newell Gillenwater, 65, were involved in an accident when their 2001 Jeep Cherokee ran off the right side of the roadway and struck a tree. Newell was pronounced dead on the scene, and Charles was immediately transported to Madison Medical Center and later airlifted to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. There were no other fatal accidents reported with the snowstorm, however, there were several involving serious injuries. The tragedy surrounding a wrongful death accident is something no family should ever have to experience.

Hazardous conditions require extra driving precuations

There are several things you should remember before you get into your vehicle and drive after a snow storm. It is important to clear all of your side windows, your front windshield, and your rear window. Second, make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid. It’s not something we usually think about until we’ve gotten into our cars and realize, while driving, that we’ve run out of fluid. There are also several brands of washer fluid that are designed specifically for icy conditions.

Make sure to dress warm. Thinking ahead and keeping an extra set of warm clothes and jackets in your car has also been known to save lives. When temperatures fall below freezing, it doesn’t take long for hypothermia to set in if you are exposed to the elements. This can all be avoided by thinking ahead and focusing on common sense safety precautions.

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