Storm yields dozens of traffic incidents

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | 9:42 a.m. CST; updated 5:04 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Dennis Young tosses ice melt to Andrew Marcy in the Steak and Shake parking lot on Worley Street on Tuesday. Although there was enough snowfall for the pair to stay busy, they said they were expecting the conditions to be worse.

COLUMBIA — At least four accidents and 20 incidents of cars sliding off the road have occurred in Columbia since 7 a.m. Tuesday, a city official said.

Suzanne Fred, Public Safety Joint Communications supervisor, reported no injuries from any of the accidents.


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According to Missouri State Highway Patrol traffic reports, a Jefferson City man died Monday night after rolling multiple times off a Highway 54 exit. It is not known if the weather played a role in the fatality.

Two people in the southwest region of Missouri were killed in separate weather-related accidents Monday afternoon, according to Highway Patrol traffic reports. Paula Meyer, 39, of Sparta, and Timothy Upton, 46, of Webb City, both slid off the roadway and struck a tree.

There have been 39 accidents reported in that region since the inclement weather began.

Capt. Tim Hull of the Highway Patrol said most of the storm has struck the southern part of the state, just barely going north of I-70. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation's Web site, most major highways south of the state's main artery are covered or partly covered by snow.

The storm hit earlier in the south than the rest of the state, resulting in more ice  on roadways. Hull said there have been some power outages in the southeast but the storm's biggest impact has been on the roads.

He added weather like Tuesday's also creates other, more personal issues.

"Situations like this where there's more ice, there are power outages, school closures, people can't get to their doctors appointments, people in rural areas can't get prescriptions or go to the grocery store," he said. "But it's supposed to warm up after today. Hopefully, this will be short-lived."

Columbia is slated to get another layer of snow late Tuesday morning and early afternoon to total an additional 1 inch. The cold Tuesday night will hit a low of 6 degrees once the storm passes.

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Eric Cox January 27, 2009 | 12:52 p.m.

The majority of drivers in Columbia shouldn't be allowed on the road in perfect conditions let alone inclement weather. Their lack of concern for the safety of everyone on the road, coupled with their childlike ignorance of the physics involved makes just trying to get to work a dangerous journey. Someone needs to sit these idiots down and say "Ice is slick, cars weigh a lot so it's hard to stop or direct them on ice or snow. You see starting, stopping and turning all require friction and there just isn't much friction on frozen water." Oh and a side note for the idiots who drive 4-wheel drive, ice is still slick even if you have 4-wheel drive, it may be easier to get going with more wheels spinning, but all cars have 4 tires and 4 brakes so stopping is still the same.

(Report Comment)
Brett Knight January 31, 2009 | 1:33 p.m.

It is impossible to wrap one's mind around how poorly this city responds to inclement weather. Where are the plows? Where are the salt trucks? Can we get an investigative report?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr January 31, 2009 | 1:56 p.m.

Brett Knight the money you need for all of those is tied up in your parks that Bill Watkins and Mike Hood insist that we must have. If you want to blame somebody go look at your City Council and what is says are the "greater priorities" in this city.

Wake up Columbia you have been sleeping far to long.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro January 31, 2009 | 6:37 p.m.

Unless the roads are closed down as being dangerous, I hold those responsible, for keeping them safe to drive on, as to blame for any vehicular damages and/or personal injuries or deaths which occur. These are not accidents. This is outright negligence.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz January 31, 2009 | 8:41 p.m.

Let me know how that works in court for you Ray.

I was out and about driving and saw a whopping one car on the side of the road, halfway up the big hill by the reactor (still not sure how the ended up facing downhill on the up side of the hill).

Everyone should know when winter weather comes about, take it slow, plan ahead, leave early, and leave distance between yourself and the person in front of you.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro February 1, 2009 | 12:33 a.m.

I don't advocate anyone driving reckless in bad weather. I also do not consider the government totally blameless for accidents on not properly maintained or not properly treated roads.
There are cities where the Comptroller's office or a specific department, will reimburse drivers for damages done to vehicles as a result of potholes, bad roads and other neglected situations.
I do not know or, due to good private insurance coverage, if I personally would ever ask Mayor Darwin Hindman for compensaton due to Columbia's lack of street maintenance. (He would probably expect me to be riding a bicycle, anyway.)
I would think, however, that if enough insurance companies or individuals started to "sue" the city, they might begin to show more care towards road maintenance.
Sometimes, you need to embarass or take court action to get certain politicians to quickly repair roads and keep them up-to-par.
Certain roads should also be quickly closed down if they are unsafe.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley February 1, 2009 | 1:05 a.m.

I think in one way, Ray does have a point... I mean, where are our tax dollars going? Aren't some of them supposed to be going towards properly maintained roads? So, if we are paying the city or the county our hard earned money in the form of taxes, shouldn't we expect them to make our roads as safe as possible?

Just some of my thoughts, not disagreeing with anyone here..


(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro February 1, 2009 | 1:12 a.m.

Just some thoughts...

Icy Road Verdict to Cost $3.55M
Friday, April 4, 2008
by Vic Vela • Journal Santa Fe

A jury awarded $3.55 million Thursday to the family of an Arizona man who died in a 2005 crash on an icy stretch of interstate east of Gallup.

The six-person jury held the state Department of Transportation "100 percent" negligent for failing to make the road safe. Damages were awarded to the estate and family members of Philip Chaky of Surprise, Ariz.

Chaky died April 10, 2005, after his truck and horse trailer flipped and crashed into an Interstate 40 guard rail east of Gallup.

Two other people died in a separate accident the same day on the same stretch of I-40's eastbound lanes in icy conditions. Both wrecks took place on bridges.

Public officials who bow to their wishes in municipalities such as Seattle may find themselves facing lawsuits from accidents caused by snow and ice that should have been removed.
Many hilly, icy roads were closed in downtown Seattle for days from several ... belong to a class action group who can sue the city for damages. ...

Rhode Island:
They are the bane of highways and byways--treacherous holes seemingly appearing from nowhere right into the path of your automobile. Potholes can cause serious traffic accidents and result in an estimated 500,000 insurance claims a year. While you will need to file a claim with your insurance company for damage over three-hundred-dollars, the State of Rhode Island will reimburse you for small claims if it deems its agencies responsible for road maintenance where your vehicle was damaged. Contact the Department of Transportation and follow their claim procedure.

How to sue your Council for pothole damage compensation

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking February 1, 2009 | 2:32 a.m.

To sue the city because you drove too fast for conditions is the ultimate abdication of personal responsibility. A driver is supposed to have control of his vehicle at all times (cars are a lot more deadly than firearms). One might as well sue a cell phone provider for providing a "distraction" resulting in an accident.

We have too many attornies, and we spend an incredible amount of time, money, and effort on these kinds of frivolous lawsuits. Enough is enough.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr February 1, 2009 | 3:25 a.m.

ray has it right Mark as even Rick pointed out too. Where is your tax dollar going if you are not seeing properly maintained roads.

If you feel that way why do you pay taxes anyway for services you are obviously not getting.

You yourself advocate strongly for your precious bike lanes and then in your post above abscond the need of street maintenance in favor of driver only responsibility.

You cannot have it both ways Mark.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley February 1, 2009 | 4:23 a.m.

I am not going to get "controversial" about this, Doob..

But, the difference is that we don't pay taxes on cell phones, they are voluntary. We are made to pay taxes on roads and highways as a legal obligation. Well, if we have to do our part and pay taxes, the government should have to do it's part and put our tax dollars to work in the way they were meant to be used.

I am not saying that a lawsuit is realistic in a case like this, but it may advocate how the citizens feel if enough of them filed it as a class action suit.. If that is even at all possible...


(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking February 1, 2009 | 6:59 a.m.

I don't advocate for bike lanes, for myself. I don't feel the need for them. However, they help get other, new people on bikes and I do advocate that.

You're right about the taxes, Rick. It may be that I don't see where our snow removal is lacking. I see plows and salt trucks all the time where I go.

A lot of roads outside of the central city are maintained by MoDOT (parts of Stadium and Broadway, for example), and this may be part of the problem. Perhaps there might be a correlation (which I'm not going to research right now) between the number of accidents and the body responsible for snow removal.

Still, it boils down to the driver to make the judgement about how and when to drive in bad weather.


(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley February 1, 2009 | 9:43 a.m.

Well, speaking personally; for me it is not a problem. I own my own business and I can work from home just as well as I can from my office in town. When the roads are icy I just stay off of them and stay home. And get "cabin fever", and post a lot! LOL.

But, I know other people don't have that luxury, and they have to get to work to support their families.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr February 1, 2009 | 9:44 a.m.

These drivers could use some serious lessons from the California Department of Transportation on how to remove snow.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro February 1, 2009 | 4:02 p.m.

California and snow never seemed to click with me. Although, I'm certain that there's California snow in their mountains and Northern areas.
The capital of New York State does a pretty good job, as well.... -

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr February 1, 2009 | 4:56 p.m.

ray here is some serious snow removal:

Here is how plows have to run un the mountains of Northern California:

I think you can appreciate this one:

(Report Comment)

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