Icy day in Lawrence sees numerous fall injuries, vehicles sliding off roads

People slipping and falling and vehicles sliding off the road have kept medical professionals and law enforcement busy on this icy day in Lawrence.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital had seen 17 patients for ice-related falls as of midafternoon Thursday, spokeswoman Belinda Rehmer said.

Two of those people were transferred to the University of Kansas hospital in Kansas City, Kan., one with a broken hip and one with a head injury, Rehmer said. Others were treated and released with various injuries to upper and lower extremities, such as ankles, hands and shoulders.

Although no ice-related crashes had been reported as of midafternoon Thursday, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies had been dispatched to or checked on eight to 10 vehicle slide-offs, most or all in unincorporated areas of the county, Sgt. Kristen Channel said.

Inside the Lawrence city limits, Lawrence police worked just one ice-related accident as of late Thursday afternoon, Officer Drew Fennelly said. He said that two-vehicle crash happened about 11:30 a.m. at Clinton Parkway and Atchison Avenue, and no injuries were reported.

The Kansas Highway Patrol had not posted crash reports for any accidents in Douglas County as of late Thursday afternoon.

However, a Lawrence man was injured in a three-vehicle crash about 8 a.m. Thursday morning on Interstate 70 in Wabaunsee County.

According to the highway patrol’s preliminary crash report, 30-year-old Rico J. Wilcox was taken to a Topeka hospital after the crash, though the report did not include details about the extent of his injuries. He was eastbound on I-70 when he lost control of his car, crossed the median and clipped another car before hitting a semi head-on. Drivers of the other vehicles weren’t hurt.

The University of Kansas and Lawrence Public Schools both called off classes again Thursday, after also doing so earlier this week, due to inclement weather on Tuesday. Many other community activities and events also were called off Thursday.

Thursday’s traffic problems were not nearly as bad as Tuesday’s, however, when thick slush covered area roads, Channel said.

Sheriff’s deputies dealt with about twice the number of slide-offs that day, as well as an accident, Channel said.

Rehmer said the hospital saw two patients who had been injured in ice-related falls on Tuesday and six on Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service in Topeka, Thursday afternoon’s freezing rain was predicted to turn into rain after 5 p.m., with drizzle likely to continue overnight.

Friday’s weather is expected to be clear with a high near 42 degrees, but then wintry weather is expected to return.

The forecast says a mix of freezing rain, sleet and rain is likely in the early-morning hours Saturday, with that changing to rain after 4 a.m. Saturday’s forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of rain — including possible thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening — with a high near 50 degrees.

Public schools must plan makeup time for inclement weather days

The Lawrence school district has now canceled classes on four days this school year, all in January or February.

Classes will be in session during the district’s scheduled “Inclement Weather Make-Up Day” on April 20, district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said.

After this first day is made up, the state of Kansas will grant “forgiveness” for the district’s second inclement weather day, Boyle said. The Lawrence school board will then decide how to make up instructional time from the other two days in order to meet state requirements.

Previous school boards have added minutes to the remaining days of the school year to make up for lost time, Boyle said.

— Joanna Hlavacek