Icy roads hamper travel in region

The snow and icy weather that began Wednesday night has left emergency officials busy responding to accidents throughout the region.

As of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Barbour, Lewis, Upshur and Randolph county law enforcement officials all reported accidents in their areas. Law enforcement officials caution motorists to be wary of the weather conditions and drive slowly and carefully.

“Slow down, drive to the conditions,” advised Sgt. Alton of the Lewis County State Police. “Leave earlier for your destination, because of the conditions and your slower speed.”

Officials say weather and ice was a factor in all the accidents that receive mention in this article, and some accidents could be caused by motorists driving too fast through icy conditions.

Officials did not identify any person involved the accidents.

Philippi’s Interim Police Chief Jeff Walters said a driver who lost control of his vehicle Wednesday night struck the historical Philippi Covered Bridge. He said the driver attempted to turn left onto U.S. Route 250 from Route 119, but lost control of his vehicle as he turned toward the Philippi Covered Bridge.

The vehicle struck the south side of the bridge entrance and reportedly bounced off and into the north side where it was then trapped inside the bridge. The driver was not hurt and Walters said the incident report did not say if there had been any damage to the historical icon. He said a wrecker had to retrieve the vehicle that was wedged inside the bridge.

Walters said another accident occurred in Philippi Thursday morning involving a tractor trailer that slid into a ditch on Pike Street. He said no one was injured in the accident.

As many as six more vehicle accidents occurred in Lewis County. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Department reported responding to four weather-related incidents Thursday. One accident involved a tractor-trailer that jackknifed on Route 33 at the bottom of Buckhannon Mountain. There were no injuries, officials said.

Chief Deputy R.W. Hyre of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department also said that officials were still on the scene of another Interstate 79 accident by the 10:30 a.m. time. The incident involves a tractor-trailer that slipped on its side at about mile marker 92 traveling north.

Hyre also reported two single-vehicle accidents on Interstate 79 north bound. Both vehicles lost control and slid off the road into the guard rail.

At the time of contact, the vehicle was still on its side and that portion of the interstate had been closed. Hyre said traffic was being rerouted off the Roanoke exit on Route 19 North. The local West Virginia State Police assisted with this accident, the Route 33 accident and two other accidents..

The West Virginia State Police also responded to two separate accidents on Interstate 79. Alton said both single vehicle accidents occurred in the south bound lanes, one at mile marker 105 and the other at mile marker 101. One of the vehicles ran off the road into the guardrail and the other slipped into the median cable, Alton said.

Alton said he also would like to caution drivers that traffic was backed up Thursday going north bound between Routes 86 and 87, because vehicles were having a difficult time traveling up the hill where the road dips as a result of icy weather.

The Elkins detachment of the WVSP responded to at least two weather-related accidents Thursday in Randolph County, dispatcher Mike Atkins told The Inter-Mountain. One occurred at 8 a.m. and another took place at noon on Route 219; no injuries were suffered.

An Inter-Mountain reporter observed a white truck being retrieved in Upshur County after 11 a.m. that appeared to have gone over the guard rails on Route 33 West just across a bridge nearing the downtown Buckhannon exit. One of two metal posts that secure the exit sign to the ground across the guardrails had broken.

Tennerton Tow Service had a line connected to the vehicle and was attempting to bring the vehicle back up off the embankment. Emergency vehicles occupied the right lane of traffic, merging other traffic to the left lane. No further information was available as of press time.