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Winter arrives: Slippery roads blamed in traffic death

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sikeston emergency crews work to extricate a driver from a pickup truck Monday afternoon. The accident occured when the truck slid on the road and collided with a semi trailer. The driver of the truck, Willie B. Love, 51, of Cairo, Ill., was killed in the accident.
(Photo by Josh Mills, Staff)
Winter mix causes problems for motorists

SIKESTON -- The winter weather can be blamed for one related death in the area, when a vehicle slid and collided with a semi trailer.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports the accident occurred around 1:50 p.m. Monday on U.S. 60, half a mile east of Sikeston. Willie B. Love, 51, of Cairo, Ill., lost control of his westbound vehicle which slid on the ice, crossing the median and striking an eastbound vehicle driven by Bruce A. Lench, 48, of Long Lane, who was driving a tractor trailer.

Love was pronounced dead at the scene by New Madrid County Coroner Jim McSpadden.

His passengers were also injured. Makeba L. Matthews, 36, of Cairo, was seriously injured and Danielle E. Matthews, 18, also of Cairo, sustained moderate injuries. Both were transported by ambulance to Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston.

The Sikeston Department of Public Safety assisted in investigating the crash.

The wintry mix was enough to cause several other wrecks across the state. But it wasn't as bad as some forecasters had predicted -- amounting to less than an inch in most places.

Jayson Wilson, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Paducah, Ky., said one prediction was nearly certain.

"Southeast Missouri is getting hit with one to three inches of snow and sleet," he said. "It's part of a massive arctic system -- the same one that caused problems in Montana."'

The bitter chill, pushed through by blustery winds, arrived suddenly as a cold front scooted across Missouri Sunday afternoon and evening. Temperatures in some cases dropped 30 degrees in about an hour.

By Monday afternoon as sleet began to fall in the Bootheel, the full impact of the storm was being felt. The weather led to the early dismissal of classes as well as a smattering of evening cancellations.

On Tuesday, several schools in Scott, New Madrid and Mississippi counties were closed due to the slick roads. Classes at the Sikeston campus of Southeast Missouri State University were delayed for two hours.

Some businesses were also closed, including Bootheel Counseling Services and the Kenny Rogers Children's Center in Sikeston, Also due to the icy conditions, the Scott County Courthouse did not open until 10 a.m., according to its Web site.

Early today, the Pemiscot County Sheriff's Department reported roads were icy and slick in the county, however no major problems. Mississippi and Scott counties sheriff department dispatchers described their roads as slick this morning.

In New Madrid County, some roadways had as much as two inches of ice, however drivers were apparently being cautious with only non-injury accidents reported early today. The storm was blamed for a power outage in Gideon; however by early today the electricity was fully restored.

Highway 60 from Butler County through Stoddard County was described as partially ice-covered in the driving lane and solid ice-covered in the passing lane by a dispatcher with the Stoddard County Sheriff's Department. Highway 25, early today was also ice packed in most spots.

In addition to the fatality in New Madrid County, slippery roads were blamed for other fatal crashes Monday, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.

Less than 10 minutes after the crash in New Madrid County, a 40-year-old Doniphan woman was killed when she lost control of her vehicle on an icy patch of U.S. 67 and collided with an oncoming vehicle, while in Butler County. Her 18-year-old passenger and three occupants of the other vehicle were injured in the wreck.

It wasn't immediately clear if the weather was to blame for another wreck Sunday night that claimed the life of a 19-year-old. The driver died after he ran off the road in Wayne County.

Forecasters are calling for a gradual warmup with more snow and perhaps freezing rain possible through mid-week. Temperatures are expected to climb back into the 40s by the end of the week.