Dixon wreck hurts one, Longview Road slide-off snarls long line of traffic
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Trees kept cars sliding off Longview Road from careening down a ravine.
DIXON/WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (Dec. 31, 2009) — Icy roads Tuesday night and Wednesday morning led to numerous slideoffs and one major traffic backup north of Waynesville, but only one of the crashes caused injuries.
That wreck happened on Highway 28 about a mile east of Dixon when Donley O. Baker, 26, of Dixon, was eastbound at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday in a 1999 Jeep Cherokee, ran off the right side of the roadway, and struck a tree.
Baker, who had been wearing his seat belt, suffered moderate injuries and was transported by Dixon Ambulance District personnel to Phelps County Regional Medical Center. His vehicle sustained moderate damage and was removed by Pro Tow of Dixon.
Most of the slideoffs caused little damage to vehicles or injuries to their drivers, but one wreck on Longview Road, the only open entrance to the Shalom Mountain and Northern Heights Estates residential subdivisions north of Waynesville off Highway 28, snarled traffic more than an hour and backed up 46 cars after Waynesville firefighters shut down the road so Rothmund’s Towing workers could remove the vehicles and Pulaski County Road and Bridge Department personnel could apply additional salt to the road.
One of the people waiting for the traffic to clear was Capt. Paul Bolduan, who came to Fort Leonard Wood in April and couldn’t get through the traffic to report for duty.
Bolduan said Wednesday morning was his first winter weather driving problem in many years.
“We’re just trying to get to work,” Bolduan said. “I’m originally from St. Louis but I’ve been living in the South ever since I signed up, and this is my first time back up north.”
Pulaski County Ambulance District personnel also responded but were not needed, and then had to wait at the crash scene until the road was cleared.
“There was no damage; the only damage was to their pride,” said Waynesville Rural Fire Chief Doug Yurecko.
According to Sgt. Darryl Suhr of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the wreck involved a 2003 Kia Spectra driven by Maria Pfeiffer and a 2006 Dodge Durango driven by Chastity Still. Both live in Shalom Mountain but Still is a Crocker native and Pfeiffer moved to Missouri from Florida.
Suhr confirmed that nobody was injured and no citations were planned because there was no significant damage to either vehicle. Things could have been much worse, however — a low-speed crash with a tree kept one of the vehicles from careening down a hill into a steep ravine. The tree was strong enough to keep the vehicle from rolling down the hill until towing personnel were able to remove it.
“The tree is why it isn’t sitting at the bottom of the hill,” Suhr said.
Suhr warned that in bad weather conditions, drivers need to slow down and be more careful, especially if they’re not from the area and not familiar with winter road conditions.
“The first thing you need to do is allow extra time and don’t assume things are OK; this hill is a good example. Things can change rapidly and without warning,” Suhr said. “That’s what happened to the Durango; she was going along fine and the car in front of her skidded and they both went off the road.”
Road conditions were dramatically different from the bottom to the top of Longview Hill, Suhr said. Near the bottom the road was fine with good traction, but near the top it became ice-covered and slippery.
Since it’s not always possible to know whether the road ahead is slippery, Suhr advised drivers to avoid using brakes, making rapid turns, or doing other things that could cause their vehicles to lose traction.
“I try to drive like I don’t have any brakes at all,” Suhr said. “Use the engine to slow down; even anti-lock brakes can lock and skid.”
Shalom Mountain developer Doug Tillett was one of the people caught in the traffic backup.
“I’ve lived here for two years and this is the tenth accident I’ve seen on this road,” Tillett said. “This thing made me miss my breakfast appointment… but unfortunately, they’ve got nurses, doctors and emergency workers who live up here and can’t get out.”
Tillett said he understands that bad weather conditions happen but said he hopes county road workers respond to them quickly on steep hills such as Longview.
“There are 200 families pinned up here,” Tillett said. “This ought to be a first priority road.”
At Thursday’s county commission meeting, Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham told Western District Commissioner Rick Zweerink that his roads didn’t seem to be as bad as those in the more rural northern and western parts of Pulaski County.
“Did you have it slick out there?” Zweerink asked. “It was pretty slick up around Crocker, but it went away pretty quick.”
“We didn’t think it was too bad out there but apparently some of the drivers did,” Farnham said. “If people would learn to drive the speed the sign says, it would sure help a lot.”