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                   Saturday, March 17, 2007 - 5:41AM

Oakwood

Snow watching and I-64 accident

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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I just finished an all-nighter watching for snow, but didn't record a single frame of video. The snow was too light to cover anything but cars and rooftops. Bridges and overpasses got a slight dusting, but not enough to cause problems in all but a few isolated spots. I drove around testing bridges for slickness, and only the least-traveled ones on secondary roads were slick.

Around 3AM, I sat for about 25 minutes on Fort Hill, keeping an eye on the infamous curve on the I-64 bridge at the Oakwood interchange. The snow had not affected the bridge yet (I had driven across it minutes earlier). The snow was light enough and traffic was keeping the bridge deck warm enough in the borderline 31F temperatures that icing was not occuring. After the snow subsided and the bridge remained ice-free, I eventually decided to return home to monitor the conditions. When I made it down the hill and back onto the interstate, I saw that a major multi-car accident had occured on the bridge in the one minute time span since I left Fort Hill! I missed witnessing it by less than a minute.

The bridge deck was not icy, so I was puzzled as to what happened. I drove back up to Fort Hill to get a better view. There was small car and a pickup truck both with extreme front-end damage, side-by-side and both pointing north (perpendicular to the road) in the middle westbound lane. Behind that, there were four other cars in a line, two visibly in contact after a rear-end collision with no visible damage. These four vehicles were apparently trying to stop in time to avoid hitting the first two vehicles lying in the middle of the road. The westbound lanes were shut down with a massive police, fire and EMS presence. At least two people were removed from the first two vehicles and taken via stretcher to waiting ambulances.

Since I had confirmed the lack of ice on the bridge (I originally left my filming spot because of it), that cause was ruled out. The resting positions of the first two vehicles and the severety of damage to both front ends was indicitave of a head-on collision, which meant that one of them had likely been driving the wrong way - possibly due to the driver being intoxicated. I checked all of the local news sources this morning, and as of yet no one has reported anything.

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