Icy bridge contributes to accident

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

It’s that time of year when the weather can change as the temperature falls causing roadways to become icy and treacherous in a hurry.

Last Wednesday, January 7, two drivers became victims of Indiana’s icy weather conditions as they were traveling on US 50 near the Jennings County line.

According to information from Deputy Andrew Hammack, two people were injured in the two-vehicle accident that occurred a little after 6 p.m. on US 50 near County Road 1000 West, in Ripley County.
Working in conjunction with Holton Town Marshal Bob Curl, the officers determined that Carla Shasteen, 38, of Herrin, Illinois, had been apparently traveling westbound on US 50 when she crossed a bridge and slid due to the ice. She then struck a guardrail on the north side of the roadway, crossed the centerline, and struck a 2001 Ford Expedition that was being operated by John Laforce, 47, of Cory.
Multiple agencies responded to the scene with the first confusion being exactly where the accident was located and in what county. Agencies from Jennings and Ripley were both called to the accident that saw Shasteen extricated from her vehicle by the Versailles Fire and Rescue. She sustained lacerations to her head, a fractured leg and other injuries. She was taken to St. Vincent Jennings County by Jennings County EMS.

Laforce complained of upper arm and shoulder pain and was taken to Margaret Mary Community Hospital in Batesville by Rescue 69. Also responding to the scene were Ripley County Medic, Holton and Versailles fire departments and first responders, and the Indiana State Police.

Versailles Fire and Rescue member Chuck Gunter told the Osgood Journal the bridge was extremely slick and hazardous, making it difficult even for rescue personnel to navigate.

While the weather that evening didn’t merit a snow emergency in the county, Commissioner Robert Reiners reminds motorists there is a policy in place.

When a Level I emergency is declared by commissioners it means roadways have, or are expected to have, significant accumulations of ice, freezing rain, sleet, snow, or significant blowing and drifting of snow. This level means roadways or major sections of the roadways are closed or impassable. Travel may be delayed and there is a risk to motorists who are exposed to these conditions.

When a Level I is declared, only essential travel is permitted. What is essential travel? This is defined as: people going to and from work, traveling to get necessary medical care or required prescription medications, going to get essential supplies of food, fuel or safe shelter. This includes emergency vehicles and workers engaged in emergency operations. All non-essential travel is prohibited.

A Level II means all roadways are closed to non-emergency vehicles and personnel. Only the following are allowed to be on the roadways:

• Emergency personnel, which includes members of law enforcement agencies, fire departments, emergency medical service providers, search and rescue organizations, rescue squads, military organizations, disaster relief organizations, emergency management personnel and required mutual aid personnel.

• Critical occupations personnel includes employees of utility companies, highway departments, towing and wrecker services, fuel delivery suppliers, news media and hospital and healthcare organizations.

Basically, with the Level II, most people need to stay off the roadways.

Motorist are urged to use extreme caution during the winter months, listen to media outlets for road conditions and whether emergencies have been declared in the direction of travel you are going.

Pictured are both vehicles involved in an accident that occurred last Wednesday evening, January 7 when they collided on an icy bridge west of Holton on US 50. Both drivers were the only occupants of their vehicles and were transported to area hospitals.