Three dead in weather-related accidents


Tuesday, January 27th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


At least three people have died in traffic accidents related to a winter storm that basically spared Oklahoma of heavy snowfall but dropped just enough to cause travel problems.

Forecasters reported general amounts of 3 inches of snow or less across the state on Monday, with pockets of northwestern Oklahoma receiving more.

Freedom in Woods County reported 3 1/2 inches of snow; Laverne in Harper County got 2 1/2 inches and Medford in Grant County reported more than 2 inches, said Erin Maxwell, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Norman.

Parts of Ellis County saw 2 inches of snow and about a half-inch or more was measured in Woodward, officials said.

``In terms of snowfall amounts, we didn't have that much. We did have a lot of blowing snow and there were some reports of almost whiteout conditions,'' Maxwell said. ``We did have reduced visibilities but in terms of amounts, basically 1 to 3 inches.''

Even with the sparse snowfall, traffic mishaps, ranging from fender-benders to injury accidents, were reported. At least two of those accidents were fatal, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.

In central Oklahoma, two women died when their vehicle collided with another car on U.S. 377.

Gayle Anita Sanders, 48, and Wanda Lou Inman, 66, were pronounced dead at the scene of the 4:43 p.m. accident in Seminole County.

Sanders, of Wanette, was headed north on the highway when her vehicle struck a patch of ice and went into a broad slide, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.

The car then collided with Tara Sue Hessman's vehicle head on, troopers said.

Sanders and Inman, of Prague, suffered massive injuries.

Hessman, 18, was pinned for 30 minutes before being freed by rescue workers. The Prague resident was taken to a Shawnee hospital with internal and leg injuries.

In Sequoyah County, a Sallisaw man was killed when his pickup truck went out of control on an ice-covered Interstate 40 bridge, hit the guardrail, left the road and overturned onto its side.

Albert Wayne Seratt, 51, was partially ejected from the vehicle, troopers said. He suffered massive injuries and died at the scene of the 6:30 p.m. accident.

Elsewhere, law officers were relieved that the winter storm wasn't as bad as it could've been.

``Nobody did anything bad today,'' Ellis County Dispatcher Joyce Steinert said. ``Nobody fell into any bar ditches or had any major wrecks. It hasn't been bad today at all.''

Woods County Sheriff Rudy Briggs said Monday's storm didn't compare to last month's storm, when parts of northern Oklahoma received close to a foot of snow.

``We've had a few fender benders around, but not much more. This was a little easier on us,'' he said.

Maxwell said the snow already had begun exiting the state late Monday and would be replaced by a slow warming trend.

Skies are forecast to be sunny, with highs forecast to reach the 30s and 40s on Tuesday. Temperatures could reach the 50s by Wednesday and approach 60 in the far southeast by Saturday, forecasters said.
If you're going to be out driving in Oklahoma or surrounding states, here's a list of numbers you may want to keep handy....

Oklahoma website 1-405-425-2385

Kansas website 1-800-585-7623

Missouri website 1-800-222-6400

Arkansas website 1-800-245-1672

Texas website 1-800-452-9292