A wintery mix of precipitation caused more than 40 accidents, with six of them resulting in injuries, Tuesday in Bartholomew County.
Just before 6 a.m., the first mix of sleet and ice hit the Columbus area, city public works director Bryan Burton said.
At 6:14 a.m., the first crash involving injuries took place southwest of the city, along the curves of South Gladstone Avenue, said Ed Reuter, 911 Emergency Operations Center director.
Initial reports indicated a 10-passenger vehicle flipped over during that crash, Reuter said.
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At 6:41 a.m., an eastbound pickup truck on East 25th Street east of the city slid out of control, smashing into the side of the bridge over Clifty Creek, just east of Petersville. The extent of injuries from both crashes, as well as names of the drivers involved, were not released by police agencies as of Tuesday afternoon.
That’s about the same time county crews began clearing rural roads, Bartholomew County highway engineer Danny Hollander said.
City crews got an earlier start, with three employees treating streets beginning at 5 a.m., while an additional three-man crew was brought in at 6 a.m., Burton said.
The remaining crews began clearing streets at 7 a.m., just as heavier amounts of snow began to fall with the sleet and ice, Burton said.
After snow became part of the mix, 22 fender-benders and slide-offs were reported in all areas of Bartholomew County by 9 a.m., Reuter said.
By that time, Bartholomew County Emergency Management had activated its lowest level of local travel advisory, indicating routine travel may be restricted in some areas because of hazardous situations, director Shannan Hinton said.
As of 12:30 p.m., six accidents resulted in injuries, Bartholomew County 911 director Ed Reuter said.
Emergency workers were also called to a total of 35 property-damage accidents and six slide-offs, Reuter said.
Besides the crashes during the morning commute, other accidents with injuries occurred at:
The junction of Jonathan Moore Pike and Carr Hill Road
The intersection of 25th Street and National Road.
U.S. 31 and Dionne Lane in Taylorsville
Near the intersection of North Gladstone and McKinley avenues.
None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, Reuter said.
Some forecasts had predicted the wintery mix would arrive several hours before it did, Reuter said.
When local residents got into their vehicles to head to work, they may have wrongly assumed they had dodged the bad-weather bullet, the 911 director said.
Most of the accidents were likely caused by drivers who did not realize an icy surface was below the freshly-fallen snow — who likely braked too hard when they began to lose control of their vehicles, Reuter said.
But what happened Tuesday morning is not unusual for the first significant winter event of the season, Reuter said.
“Motorists often don’t allow enough breaking time or stopping distance the first day we have weather like this,” he said.
Since dangerous driving conditions may return later in the week, Reuter urged motorists to slow down and use caution at all times.
For local weather updates or closings, visit therepublic.com