Archive for Tuesday, February 23, 1999

SNOW PACKS FENDER BENDERS

February 23, 1999

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Law enforcement officials keep busy with traffic accidents in the wake of Monday's snowstorm.

As cars and trucks backed up behind him, Douglas County Sheriff's Cpl. Sutagee Anglin stood in the blustery snow about noon Monday to redirect traffic on U.S. Highway 59 south of Lawrence.

"The hill's too slick for people to get up it," he said of the hill at Pleasant Grove. "Tractor-trailers are even sliding around on it."

So Anglin stopped each and every car on southbound U.S. 59, asked drivers where they were headed and offered alternate routes.

"You can only go east and west," he explained to drivers at the highway's intersection with County Road 458.

Most drivers took the news in stride, Anglin said. But there were a few who expressed their displeasure at the inconvenience.

"You always have a few," Anglin said with a smile.

Meanwhile, Lawrence police officers were busy all day responding to fender benders and more serious accidents.

About 6 p.m., Lt. Dave Cobb estimated officers had responded to 25 accidents in Lawrence, but he said that number probably would rise substantially as police finished filling out their reports.

About 60 accidents were reported in both the city and county as of Monday night.

Cobb reported two serious morning accidents -- one at Ninth and Avalon streets and another at 23rd and Harper streets.

Details were sketchy because reports weren't completed, but Cobb said the chaos on Ninth Street began at 10:37 a.m. when a pickup driver trying to make the climb near Avalon began slipping and sliding. A line of cars behind him was getting longer, Cobb said, so the driver pulled left of center to allow traffic to get around him.

It didn't prove to be the best idea.

Drivers coming down the hill eastbound on Ninth encountered the pickup in their lane, and that's when a chain of accidents involving 11 vehicles began. The first driver attempted to avoid the truck but swerved and drove over a curb and into a utility pole, Cobb said. A second driver coming eastbound hit the truck.

It didn't stop there.

A Jayhawk Beverage semi-truck coming down the hill jackknifed.

Witnesses earlier had called for an ambulance for the driver who hit the pole, and a fire truck from Lawrence Fire & Medical responded.

Capt. James Ens and firefighter Andy Booth were injured when their fire truck crashed into the Jayhawk Beverage truck, Cobb said. Doctors treated and released both men.

Battalion Chief Bill Stark said he couldn't estimate damage to the truck.

"Well, put it this way, we can't operate it," he said. "We can drive it, but we've put them on a reserve truck."

The other serious accident occurred about 10:50 a.m. at 23rd and Harper streets. William Brimblecom Jr., 22, of Lawrence, was eastbound on 23rd, and Eddie Allen, a 57-year-old Kansas City, Mo., man, was westbound when the two collided.

A report said Brimblecom lost control, slid across lanes of traffic and struck Allen. Monday evening, Brimblecom was in Lawrence Memorial Hospital with back-related injuries. He was in fair condition.

The Kansas Highway Patrol and Kansas Turnpike Authority did not report any serious accidents in the Douglas County area.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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