Snow wreaks havoc on roads

Bobby Neal of A-1 Towing emerges from the hole that a state DOT pickup slid into on Tuesday. - Jim Larsen
Bobby Neal of A-1 Towing emerges from the hole that a state DOT pickup slid into on Tuesday.
— image credit: Jim Larsen

Tuesday morning’s snow storm on Whidbey Island kept wreckers and police officers rushing from one minor accident to another.

By noon, State Patrol Trooper Scott Wernecke was attending a wreck at SR 20 and Frostad Road before heading out to another one on Houston Road.

“We’ve got three troopers and a sergeant working Whidbey Island,” he said as falling snow lightly coated his uniform. “It started out slow but the last couple hours we’ve had half a dozen collisions all over the island.”

The Frostad Road accident involved a single state Department of Transportation pickup driven by Vernon Williams, 55, of Kent. Wernecke said Williams had stopped on the highway to turn left when it became clear that a vehicle behind him wasn’t going to stop. He stepped on the gas to get out of the way and ended up plummeting down a 10-foot hole at the intersection. The Ford Ranger ripped through thick brush and collided with a telephone pole, decimating a box of wiring in the process. “A few people may be without phone service,” Wernecke said.

Williams banged up his knee but declined an ambulance ride to the hospital, opting to drive away with a fellow DOT employee. The difficult task of pulling his vehicle out of the hole was given to Bobby Neal, operator of the A-1 Towing truck.

Working together with shovel and cable, Wernecke and Neal finally managed to drag the vehicle up onto the wrecker, but it took half an hour of trial and error. Finally, Wernecke was able to proceed to the next accident. “We’ll stay busy most of the day,” he said.

An inch or two of snow fell Tuesday on North Whidbey, following a scattering of the white stuff Sunday. No school was scheduled on Monday, and Tuesday’s downfall wasn’t enough to disrupt operations. The weather forecast called for rain to wash it all away by Thursday.

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