Icy roads cited in man’s death, numerous crashes
WILLMAR — Ice on roadways contributed to numerous spinouts, rollovers and crashes over the weekend including a fatality Saturday afternoon east of Willmar.
The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office said a 38-year-old Kandiyohi man died in a collision of two trucks shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday on 15th Avenue Southeast (County Road 23), about a quarter-mile west of County Road 9.
The sheriff’s office was called at approximately 12:46 p.m. When emergency services arrived, they found the driver had died. Two passengers, a 37-year-old woman and 7-year-old boy, were transported by Willmar Ambulance to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar. Their condition was not reported.
The second truck was driven by a 37-year-old Willmar man who was headed west on 15th Avenue when his vehicle lost control on the icy roadway, crossed the center line and collided with the other truck. His condition was not reported.
The sheriff’s office did not identify the names of the individuals involved in the crash.
The Willmar Fire Department, Kandiyohi County Rescue Squad and Minnesota State Patrol assisted at the scene.
The crash was among an estimated 26 to 30 crashes reported Saturday to the sheriff’s office and police department, a police sergeant said Sunday afternoon. The crashes included vehicles that went off the road and into the ditch, rolled over or struck utility poles or street signs. Fewer crashes were reported Sunday.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation said Sunday afternoon that driving was difficult on many area highways after rain Friday night froze on surfaces over the weekend.
Ice was also a problem for motorists in Willmar as city Public Works Department truck drivers applied salt and sand Friday night and Saturday and Sunday mornings in an attempt to make streets less slippery.
However, the temperatures were too cold to allow the salt to melt the ice.
“We’re kind of battling the ice right now,’’ said Public Works Superintendent Scott Ledeboer. The Tribune reached Ledeboer Sunday afternoon while he was checking out the streets after his drivers had gone home.
Ledeboer said cold temperatures were preventing the salt mixed in with the sand to melt the ice as he would like it to. He said the salt would help if temperatures rose to over 10 degrees.
“We’ve put out a lot material. Unfortunately it’s just not cutting right now.’’ he said.
Ledeboer said he has seen ice storms before.
“Unfortunately on this one we dropped temperatures right afterward and not a lot of time to react,’’ he said.
Ledeboer had one driver worked Friday night during the rain. He said five drivers worked for 4 to 5 hours Saturday morning and four drivers worked Sunday morning.
Ledeboer estimates his drivers applied about 60 loads of salt and sand during the past 2½ days. The city tries to start the fall with about 2,000 cubic yards of sand and purchase of 600 tons of salt. It’s mixed and stored under the new storage shed near the Public Works garage. The shed is designed to keep the material dry and prevent rain was leaching the salt to the ground.
Ledeboer estimates the city has used two-thirds of the sand-salt combination.
“We’re hoping the rest of the winter eases up. We’ve had a lot of snow events — one-inch snowfalls — that type of thing.’’
Also, Ledeboer urges drivers to slow down for icy conditions.