At least three die in traffic accidents in freezing rain

Thursday, February 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Freezing rain coated highways with a thin sheet of ice late Wednesday, leading to a 30-car traffic pileup, at least three deaths and a mishap that left a commuter jet stuck in the mud.

"We had a slew of crashes last night," said highway patrol Lt.

Chris West. "It got icy really bad. Most of the roads were really bad.

"You got on bridges or overpasses and it was just ice."

Road conditions were beginning to improve Thursday morning in time for the morning commute.

The chain-reaction accident killed two people at the intersection of Interstate 40 and Interstate 44 in Oklahoma City Wednesday night, Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman Deanna Hargus said.

Video shown on local television stations showed people running from the scene of a traffic accident seconds before tractor-trailer trucks and other vehicles plowed into damaged cars.

Hargus said a third person was killed in a separate traffic accident elsewhere in the area, but she didn't have further details.

An American Airlines commuter jet slid off a runway at Will Rogers World Airport Thursday morning after it hit a patch of black ice. Nobody was hurt.

FAA spokesman John Clabes said the jet, which holds 45 people, had aborted a takeoff and was on a taxiway when one of its main landing gears slid off the tarmac and into the mud.

One of the airport's main runways was closed as efforts were made to free the jet, which had been destined for Dallas.

Trooper Peter Norwood, another highway patrol spokesman, said that in addition to the three deaths, there were also reports of two other people killed in traffic accidents in the area, but he didn't have further details.

He estimated that there were 30 to 40 traffic accidents since Thursday evening, not including the pileup.

A collision on Interstate 40 left a motorist seriously injured and two law enforcement officers with minor injuries.

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer and an Oklahoma County Deputy Sheriff were extinguishing road flares after an accident when a motorist slid into the scene and struck the trooper's car and the deputy's car.