By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — Area law enforcement officials have been swamped over the past 24 hours due to the winter storm that blasted the area the past two days.
“Most of our calls have been routine traffic — owners of vehicles who are stuck or need assistance,” said Chief of Police Chris Mendenall on Friday.
Sleet turned over to all snow around 6 p.m. Thursday and the wintry precipitation was still falling by mid-afternoon on Friday. Forecasters called for the snow to end on Friday night, followed by a short respite, and then more snow is forecast for the weekend.
The city actually had few weather-related calls, compared to the county and Illinois State Police.
Logs indicate a vehicle was off the roadway on Illinois 142 near Continental Tire at 2:40 p.m. Thursday; an officer was out with a stuck vehicle in the 3100 block of Broadway shortly before 10 p.m.; and an officer assisted a motorist in the 2500 block of Logan Street shortly before 12:30 a.m. Friday.
County deputies began getting calls around 3 p.m. Thursday, and logs indicate the department received several calls that evening, into Friday morning.
Most of those calls were on Interstates 64 and 57.
Two calls came in at 3:06 and 3:08 p.m., respectively, on Thursday for vehicles that had ran off the roadway on Interstate 64 — about five miles apart. No injuries were reported.
Two more accidents were reported at 4:18 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Interstate 64 at the 67 mile marker. In both cases, vehicles had run off the roadway, but no injuries were reported.
Ina Police Department also reported its share of incidents.
An accident on Interstate 57 at the 83 mile marker occurred shortly before 7 p.m., and another motorist attempting to help with that accident slid off into a ditch.
Ina P.D. also responded to a semi in a ditch loaded with 41,000 pounds of merchandise; and a second semi reportedly also went into a ditch near the location of the first incident.
A semi-trailer reportedly jacknifed at 7:20 p.m. at mile marker 82 on Interstate 64.
No serious injuries were reported in any of the reported accidents.
“It’s been absolutely exhausting,” said Rick Heck of Rick’s Towing. “We’ve been going since Thursday morning.”
Heck said the 12 trucks he owns have been on the road since the inclement weather began.
He said most of the larger trucks have had the most difficulty negotiating the road conditions.
Heck estimated late Friday afternoon the company to be about six hours behind in answering small truck calls, and though the company does snowplowing for businesses, that work has been put on hold until later today.
“We’re not even thinking about snowplowing. It usually takes us 30 minutes to an hour, but with this amount of snow, it’s taking 90 minutes to two hours,” he said.
It was much the same at McDermott’s Towing. A woman answering the telephone there said calls have been nearly non-stop.
“The semis are having the most trouble,” she said. “They aren’t getting any traction at all.”
A waiting list was established early Friday, and though some people have called to cancel, the calls have been steady, the spokeswoman said.