Surprise squall stuns drivers, causes several wrecks

A clear spring morning reverted to winter's wrath in minutes in Medina County Friday.

Drivers say even 10 minutes before a snow squall passed over Interstate 71 the roads were dry.

"It was about when the snow was hitting pretty hard. We get out here, find the road is iced over," said Sgt. Tim Dearmitt with the State Highway Patrol.

"They should have been slowing down. But it was a little late," said Fred Warne, a truck driver.

"Just seen everybody else stopping and sliding, and, before you know it, it was all mayhem and craziness," said Vince Fenstemaker of Columbus.

"It was mass chaos after that," said Don Lincoln of New York.

"Everybody just ran into each other," said Stan Foster of Cincinnati.

A bridge of I-71 south became a sheet of black ice, piling up 13 drivers just south of state Route 18, creating a backup for two hours.

The surprise snowstorm struck roads in Summit and Stark counties, too, closing down Interstate 76 westbound and all lanes of I-77 at Route 30.

"The road's in much better shape now than it was. It was basically a sheet of ice," Dearmitt said. "With the blowing snow -- kind of a contributing factor to what happened."

Three people were taken to the hospital, but none is facing critical injuries.

"I think if speeds would have been higher, we could have had the same situation we had on the turnpike last week, so we're fortunate," Dearmitt said.


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