Accidents abound after snow

Gerald Whitley, head equipment operator for the Clovis Department of Public Works, loads his truck Wednesday with a mixture of sand and salt. He said the department planned to work through the night to salt streets. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By CNJ staff

Vehicle accidents overwhelmed responders Wednesday morning, a result of snow-packed roads from recent snowfall.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque reported 1.4 inches of snow fell by 8 a.m. Wednesday in Clovis. The snowfall reached approximately 2.5 inches by evening.

Clovis police reported by mid-afternoon there had been 33 motor vehicle accidents in the area, with six people transported by ambulance to the hospital, according to Clovis Police Capt. Patrick Whitney.

Whitney said excessive speed for inclement driving conditions was to blame.

“Everybody is going way faster than they should for the road conditions,” he said.
“People need to slow way down when they drive in this weather. The only thing that stops you (when you are driving) is time and distance.”

Whitney said local radio stations had been asked to issue cautions to residents not to drive unless absolutely necessary because responders’ resources were being stretched too thin by the high number of accidents.

The accidents also stretched resources for area towing businesses.

Kenneth Workheiser is the owner of Trans-Matic Wrecker Service. He said a normal day means six to eight calls for his towing business. On Wednesday, he had about 25 calls.

Workheiser, who has had Trans-Matic for 18 years, said it’s difficult to predict the challenges each snowy day will bring.

“A lot of it depends on how the city and state take care of the roads. If they get out early enough and do their job, it’s less for us.”

And how well did they do on Wednesday morning?

“Not very well,” he said with a laugh. “The city only has two snow plows on the front of two 3/4-ton pickups. They can’t do too much.”

Fast facts
Of the 33 accidents:

7 resulted in injury
6 people in accidents were sent to the hospital
2 happened on private property
1 was a hit and run

Road watch

New Mexico
Phone: (800) 432-4269
Internet: www.nmroads.com

Texas
Phone: (800) 452-9292
Internet: www.dot.state.tx.us