Ice causes mishaps on county highways

Lack of real snowfall didn’t matter to Kitsap County drivers last weekend, at least when it came to their abilities to stay on the road .

The State Patrol responded to more than 80 accidents countywide on Saturday and Sunday.

Although the vast majority were relatively minor — mostly spinouts and fender-benders — nearly all were due to weather conditions.

Although few neighborhoods got more than a light dusting of snow, much of the precipitation ended up on the roads and eventually turned into a slushy, icy mess.

“It was ice that caused the problems,” said State Patrol spokesman Trooper Glen Tyrrell. “We got nothing (in the way of snow).”

Slippery conditions on State Route 16 caused three major accidents in South Kitsap Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday just after midnight, a light-colored Ford Bronco rammed the back of a Mitsubishi Eclipse, totaling the car. The Eclipse had hit a slick patch and the driver was attempting to slow down when it got hit. Although the driver of the car wasn’t injured, the passenger had to be transported to Harrison Hospital for treatment.

The Bronco fled the scene after the accident, and police are still trying to locate the unknown driver. Tyrrell encourages anyone with information on the incident to call State Patrol at 478-4646.

Two rollover accidents on Saturday happened only 11 minutes apart and within one mile of each other on SR 16.

The first occurred at 10:30 a.m. A woman was driving her van eastbound near the Mullenix Road interchange when she went off the road. The van did a 180-degree turn as it rolled and ended up landing on its wheels facing westbound. The woman, who had been wearing her seatbelt, was taken to the Naval Hospital.

A little more than 10 minutes later, a man traveling eastbound in a pickup truck just east of the Sedgwick interchange rolled into the median. His truck also landed on its wheels. The man was taken to Harrison Hospital — he had also been wearing his seatbelts.

The various hospitals would not release information on any of the injured parties.

“It’s weird to have two rollovers like that,” Tyrrell said.

He said rollover accidents are largely the result the car hitting the soft shoulder at a relatively high speed — 50 mph is enough to do it.

“Once you get sideways (off the road), your tires plant in the soft shoulder and your top keeps going,” Tyrrell said.

He added that most of the accident reports the State Patrol responded to were of cars in ditches.

Tyrrell said much of the highway system in South Kitsap is heavily treed and therefore does not get much sun. Ice and slick spots can remain on those roads long after the roads are dry elsewhere in the county.

He also said overpasses develop ice faster than other parts of the roadway because the bridges are not insulated.

“All the elevated structures are the first to go,” Tyrrell said.

He emphasized that drivers need to slow down and increase their following distance when the weather is bad, or even when it looks bad. By Monday morning, he said, it looked like people were finally in the habit of driving more cautiously, even though the storms had passed.

“People were doing a really good job,” Tyrrell said.

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