Wintry blast blankets roads in ice
County schools shut down for the day; multiple accidents reported
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Dec. 8, 2005 -- Winter storm forecasts for Hopkins County came true late Wednesday and early Thursday, closing schools and coating streets and highways with a sheet of ice.

Traffic on Interstate 30 slowed to a crawl overnight, and in some areas came to a standstill because of ice-related accidents.

Texas Department of Public Safety troopers were dispatched to at least 13 accidents, according to communications officers who said additional calls were handled by patrol supervisors out on the highway.

While there were several wrecks that resulted in injuries, many only involved cars or trucks that slid into a ditch or through a fence. 

Sheriff's deputies also responded to 12 accident reports as well as those incidents where someone simply slid off the road.

At least nine people were transported to the emergency room after a van owned by a prisoner transport company hit a patch of ice on the interstate on the east side of Sulphur Springs. The van slid off the pavement and overturned after its wheels struck soft dirt.

Police, sheriff's officers and highway patrol troopers responded and accompanied the prisoners to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries. After treatment, the prisoners were taken to Hopkins County jail to await another van to take them to their destination.

As late as 11 a.m. Thursday, troopers were still working accidents on the interstate and traffic was still moving very slowly, at times on the shoulder of the road or on the frontage roads.

Students in schools across the county got a day off from classes because of the icy roads. Most school districts opted to delay classes for a couple of hours to wait and see if conditions would improve. They didn't. 

"We just called off the day,"  said Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Patsy Bolton. "Tomorrow will depend [on] if the ice on the streets thaws, but unless the temperatures warm up, there possibly will still be ice on the roads. 

"We will be monitoring [conditions] this afternoon and trying to make that decision," she said.

Bolton said she hated to not open the schools Thursday because it was still relatively early in the school year, and with many weeks of winter left there could be classroom days that would have to be made up at the end of the year.

Superintendent Bert Vandiver in Cumby had also planned to delay the start of classes for two hours Thursday morning, but changed his mind on the way to his office.

"Oh man, the roads got slicker the closer I got to Cumby," said Vandiver, who lives in Greenville. "We just shut her down and will try again tomorrow."

Students, parents and school employees are encouraged to listen to KSST radio Friday morning for any updated information on delays in bus schedules, starting times or canceling classes another day.

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