Another day of slip and slide; dozens find selves in the ditch
Ice and snow made driving in the area more like skating and several motorists slid into ditches, snowbanks and each other Sunday and Monday, officials said.
Officials reported no injuries to The Press Monday. They expect slick roads again today, which has become quite common in southwest North Dakota, with dozens of slide-offs and rollovers in the past few weeks.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol responded to about 20 vehicles in the ditch and about six crashes in the area Sunday, according to a press release.
Billings County Deputy Sheriff Pat Rummel issued a no travel advisory for the county Monday morning.
"They're sliding into the median or off the road and there's so much snow in the medians and in the ditches, they just get stuck and need a wrecker to come pull them out," he said. There was only damage to one vehicle, which rolled near Painted Canyon, he added.
Interstate 94 between Dickinson and Medora was especially treacherous Monday and traffic was going about 40 mph in the 75 mph zone, Rummel said.
"The passing lane was completely covered with snow and ice, but then the driving lane was pretty much all ice -- continuous ice," he said.
Several motorists slid off Interstate 94 east of Dickinson, as well, said Casey Vernon, a mechanic at Jeff's Towing in Dickinson.
The business towed six or seven vehicles Monday, he said, adding one of the customers said they were traveling at 80 mph when they went into the ditch.
"Everyone should just drive 50," Vernon said with a laugh.
Highway 85 was continuous ice, Rummel said.
Rummel expected to keep Billings County under a no travel advisement until this morning.
Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy expects conditions to be similar today.
"The roads are awful icy and I mean all the roads are icy," he said.
As of about 3:30 p.m., the deputies hadn't responded to any incidents on county roads, he said, adding it doesn't take much to wind up in the ditch.
"You take country roads, they're icy and they're rough and all you got to do is go a little faster than you're supposed to and if you hit a rut, you're going for a ride," Tuhy said.
Dickinson Police Sgt. Dan Brown said officers responded to at least four accidents in town, none resulting in injuries.
"One was in a parking lot and a couple of them were on the streets, but they're all very low-speed," Brown said. "The sanders have been out, but they can only do so much, too."
He said there were several spots where he could tell people had slid into snowbanks, particularly on State Avenue South.
"We haven't had any that I'm aware of that required anybody getting towed out or anything," Brown said. "If I wouldn't be out having to be driving around, I probably wouldn't be."
Business seems to have picked up at Jeff's Towing this year compared to last winter, Vernon said.
"We've been fairly busy with just the tow truck," he added.
Calls to the North Dakota Highway Patrol were not returned Monday.