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Armstrong County drivers surprised by icy conditions on roads

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Rain and already cold ground led to icy roads, dozens of vehicles sliding off them and numerous crashes throughout Armstrong County late Wednesday morning.

Sgt. William Meko of the state police in East Franklin said motorists who started out on safe roads were caught off guard and found themselves on black ice when conditions changed for the worse.

That occurred just after 10 a.m.

“People didn't know until they hit an icy spot,” said Meko. “They were getting stuck or crashing and we were busy responding. Once roads got salted, it controlled it.”

“There was nothing serious,” Meko added.

State police in Butler first warned that roadways throughout neighboring Butler County were treacherous due to ice and freezing rain and advised motorists to keep off roadways if possible.

The morning commute brought a rash of accidents on the ice-slicked roads as the rain moved into Armstrong.

Armstrong 911 dispatchers said the first call came into the center around 10:10 a.m. for a crash in the northwest corner of the county at the intersection of Route 68 and Seybertown Road in Bradys Bend.

A six-vehicle pile-up was reported at 10:23 a.m. on the West Kittanning Hill up from the Kittanning Bridge. Radio calls said one vehicle was on fire and that a pregnant woman was in another of the vehicles.

Emergency vehicles experienced delays and had difficulty getting to their destinations due to the ice as they responded to that crash and to many of the others that followed, according to monitored radio communications.

Armstrong 911 reported there were 49 dispatches for accidents between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

“That's just the dispatches,” said an unidentified 911 operator. “We fielded about 150 calls in all — many were for stranded motorists.”

Fire crews were busy responding to crashes all over the county.

A news release of fire and medical calls from Armstrong 911 listed vehicle accidents with injuries and/or entrapment on Route 422 in East Franklin; a rollover at Route 85 at Routes 28/66 in Rayburn; a crash at Tipple Road at Route 66/28 in Mahoning near Distant and at the Route 422/Route 28 interchange and on the Graff Bridge in Manor.

In Bethel there were crashes on Route 66 and Grantz Hollow Road. Accidents were reported in East Franklin at the Hilltop Plaza; Route 85 in Rayburn and Ford City Road in Cadogan.

Wires were reported down along Route 85 in Valley at 11:33 a.m.

Armstrong School District buses pulled over during the morning hours to wait for improved road conditions.

The school district notified parents that the afternoon kindergarten classes were canceled and that the a.m. students would be kept at school and bused home later.

Reports of vehicle accidents continued throughout yesterday afternoon before temperatures warmed and the ice on the road melted by mid-afternoon.

No serious accidents were reported in Armstrong County.

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh and PennDOT both issued travel advisories.

The National Weather Service said ice was possible as rain moved through the region. Several counties, Armstrong included, were reporting icy conditions and traffic accidents due to below freezing surface temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.

Precipitation was expected to have cleared the region by 2 p.m., weather officials said.

PennDOT officials said Armstrong County had multiple crashes. They reported that no roadways were closed because of accidents or ice.

Motorists were urged to avoid unnecessary travel, to use extreme caution, and to be aware of potential icing conditions.

In the event of bad weather, motorists may check conditions on more than 2,900 miles of interstates and other major highways in the state by calling 5-1-1 or visiting www.511PA.com<http://www.511pa.com.

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or mfryer@tribweb.com.

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