Hundreds of accidents reported as Houston area deals with icy roads
HOUSTON – Tuesday was full of freezing rain, sleet and snow that caused plenty of weather-related accidents.
"It was terrifying because I just left a friend's house and they said, or the news told you, you shouldn't be on the roads," said Hanna
Titus, 21, whose car spun out along the Southwest Freeway and Highway 6.
The section of road was temporarily shut down because of ice.
"My car, when it made a full turn, it hit the ledge going onto the freeway and I thought I was going to fall into the ditch," Titus said.
Not far away, other sections of Fort Bend County were also blocked off.
More spinouts were not hard to find.
The county judge said at least 24 roads were closed, and that number grew as the night went on.
Crews already had responded to a least a dozen crashes.
"We can handle wet, we can handle cold but when you get real cold with water and you put ice on these roads, it's very dangerous. It's hard for folks to move around," Judge Bob Hebert, of Fort Bend County, said.
For that reason, as in other places across the area, county leaders are urging folks to simply stay put and not risk going out.
"Just let nature take her course. It'll be over tomorrow by noon and we'll get back to living a life down here," Hebert said.
"Other people, stay home. Don't come out unless you need to because it's not worth it. It's not worth it at all. It's bad out here," said Clyde Gary, whose vehicle spun out.
After nightfall, a two-car accident scene on the Southwest Freeway near Beechnut was a similar site witnessed across the city of Houston.
Vehicles were colliding on icy patches of roads.
"In the early morning there was nothing at all, but you know, after 12 it started freezing up," tow truck driver Shadi Juma, who was on scene to tow away one of the vehicles involved, said. "That's when the accidents started happening."
In fact, the high number of accidents happened on a day when traffic was relatively sparse, schools were closed and people were home from work.
In a tweet, Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo said the "average number of traffic crashes in a 24-hour period is about 226, today we've had well over 300 in a 9-hour period despite much lighter traffic."
In a press briefing, Acevedo also addressed unsafe driving he and another officer witnessed on the roads.
"We're driving with our lights on the freeway trying to slow people down and they are passing us," Acevedo said. "If you see a police car going 35 miles an hour with its lights on you're required A, not pass it and B, have some common sense."
Average number of traffic crashes in 24 hour period is about 226, today we’ve had well over 300 in a 9 hour period despite much lighter traffic after many folks heeded@SylvesterTurner warning. Roadway conditions remain treacherous throughout the region & will be until 1 p.m Wed.— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) January 17, 2018
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said deputies in Precinct 5 responded to a high number of crashes because of slick roads.
Gonzalez said the Harris County Sheriff's Office fielded more than 400 crash reports from 5 a.m. through 7 p.m. Tuesday.
In Precint 4, KPRC rode along as Lieutenant Michael Cohen responded to calls for help, most of them weather-related.
“It’s just not a great time to be out on the road,” Cohen said.
There was an 18-wheeler stranded on an incline along the Hardy Toll Road with frozen brakes.
Nearby, a truck slammed into a concrete barrier.
Cohen then heard a call for help from a deputy who had fallen and cut his head.
KPRC rode along as Cohen responded to the call, but en route, driving north on the Hardy Toll Road, just past Rankin Road, they hit a patch of ice and lost control, slamming into the center divider.
“I’ve never had it happen to me,” Cohen said. “You can’t control it.”
KPRC watched other drivers slide in the same spot. Later, Harris County would close that section of the Hardy Toll Road.
Our 911 center fielded 400-plus crash reports from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Treacherous road conditions mean deputies are only able to respond to the most serious wrecks. Please stay off the roads tonight. #hounews #HOUWX #HOUTraffic— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) January 17, 2018
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