Freezing fog ices C.O. roads, triggers crashes

Several to hospitals, no serious injuries reported

BEND, Ore. - It was a slick, slippery trip to work, school or elsewhere for many on the High Desert Wednesday morning as freezing fog contributed to more than a dozen slide-offs or crashes across Central Oregon, though no serious injuries were reported.

Apparently, no schools decided to cancel or delay classes, despite the icy roads that began to hit Tuesday evening on a second day of foggy weather, possibly playing a role in a rollover crash on Powell Butte Highway near Bend Airport.

Deschutes County 911 dispatchers tallied a dozen slide-offs or accidents during the Wednesday morning commute hours, but said only one person needed to go to the hospital for treatment.

It's possible that the number of serious crashes was down because, unlike black ice some encountered, the icy conditions of most roads were evident, prompting many to slow down (or stay off them). Medics also responded to calls of folks falling on the icy sidewalks around the region.

In Crook County, Highway 126 was the big trouble spot, with three crashes in less than two hours and two drivers taken to hospitals, where they were treated and released.

The first, around 4 a.m., occurred on Highway 126 and Powell Butte Highway. Sheriff's Deputy Mitch Madden said Stetson Hall, 18, of Prineville, was heading west on the highway when he lost control of his 2000 Honda Odyssey van, which struck a barbed wire fence and telephone pole. He was unhurt, and Star Towing LLC towed the van, Madden said.

About 40 minutes late, a two-vehicle, head-on crash was reported about a half-mile to the west on Highway 126, near SW Remington Road.

In that case, an investigation found that Shane Manary, 24, of Redmond, was heading east at the wheel of a 1996 Honda Civic when he lost control and it crossed into the oncoming lane, striking a 2001 GMC pickup driven by Gary Mansfield, 59, of Prineville. Manary was taken to St. Charles Redmond, where he was treated and released.

Shortly before 6 a.m., deputies responded to a one-vehicle crash on Highway 126 near SW Minson Road. They said James Hight, 68, of Aumsville, Ore., was heading west when he lost control of his 1998 Ford Ranger on the icy road and it rolled down an embankment.

Hight was trapped in his pickup and was cut out of the wreckage by Crook County Fire and Rescue crews. He was taken to Pioneer Memorial Hospital, where he, too, was treated and released.

Sheriff's officers also were assisted by Oregon State Police, ODOT, Redmond Fire and Rescue and Active Towing in responding to the crashes.

Madden reminded drivers to slow down in icy road conditions and give yourself more time to get to your destination.

Ironically, the Redmond Ice Rink has closed for the season, a bit early, due to the weather.

Katie Hammer, executive director of the Redmond Park and Recreation District, said the ice rink was originally scheduled to close on March 2 for the season. "The weather forecast of freezing rain and rain over the next few days caused us to make the decision to close early," she said.

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