Winter storm in Oklahoma linked to at least nine deaths


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 5:22 pm
By: News On 6


A winter storm packing rain, ice and chilling winds contributed to at least nine deaths caused by traffic accidents, officials said.

The storm hit much of central Oklahoma early Wednesday. Ice lasted through Thursday and chilly temperatures -- some with wind a chill of zero -- worsened conditions.

Winter weather was a factor in five fatal accidents, including one that killed a Tulsa woman and her four children.

In Broken Arrow, rain-slickened roads contributed to a wreck that killed Shanna Tottress, 28, and her children.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers and Broken Arrow police said it was unclear the exact role the rainy weather played in the collision.

"It was wet at the time of the accident and witnesses saw the vehicle go into a spin, so there's speculation that weather was a factor in part of the crash," said Capt. Paul Kroutter.

Tottress's children 15-year-old Tatiana Tottress; 13-year-old Tashay Tottress; Jonet Tottress, 8 and Ebony Tottress, 5, were all killed in the wreck on Oklahoma 51.

A Tulsa woman died on Highway 66 near the Creek Turnpike in Sapulpa after an accident around 6:15 a.m.

Sapulpa police said Brenda Baysinger's car hydroplaned on a rain-slickened road, went over the center line and struck a pickup truck.

"We feel weather contributed to this," said Capt. Rick Rumsey.

In southwestern Oklahoma, icy roads were being blamed for three-car wreck that killed an Eldorado woman at about 6:40 a.m. Wednesday

Troopers say a pickup truck traveling south on Oklahoma 6 lost control and crossed the center line, hitting the sport utility vehicle driven by Shirley Faye Mason White. White, 61, was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead.

In Rogers County, a Pryor woman was killed when she lost control of her car on icy roads and went into the path of oncoming traffic at about 4:25 p.m. on Oklahoma 20.

Troopers said Letha Baquet, 24, died from massive head injuries after being flown by helicopter to a Tulsa hospital. Baquet, who was not wearing her seatbelt, was thrown through her passenger door about 22 feet.

A Blackwell man was killed in northern Oklahoma after sliding across a Kay County roadway.

Troopers say Travis Scott Holmes, 34, died after hitting a semi-truck and another car. The semi-truck was attempting to make a U-turn at about 7:16 a.m. when Holmes hit the semi and then went into a broad slide for 70 feet before being hit by a third car.

Freezing rain started falling in the area by midafternoon Tuesday and continued pouring as it moved eastward into the highly populated central portion of the state.

Ice at least 2 inches thick sent trees and power poles tumbling to the ground in Alfalfa, Woods and Woodward counties.

Richard Polson, Alfalfa County emergency management director, said power outages and damage were reported in the northern part of the county but central and southern areas were relatively unscathed.

Some residents were taking in neighbors who didn't have heat, Polson said.

"We got a generator at the county barn and the firehouse," he said. "Folks can go to those places to warm up if they need to."