by Jonathan Weaver
Though Armstrong County avoided significant snowfall overnight, local motorists Monday afternoon had to face small hail and slush as they went back to work.
Starting around 12:30PM, Armstrong 9-1-1 dispatchers began receiving emergency reports of vehicle crashes with possible injuries or entrapment.
Nearly a dozen emergencies from East Franklin Township to Bethel Township and Rayburn were logged in the first two hours, keeping medical and fire personnel on-alert.
One of the first calls came along Route 66 when a four-door sedan crashed through the guardrail near Lenape Heights Golf Course in Bethel Township.
Though some of the welcome signage was destroyed, the driver – reported to be Brandon Walker of Cadogan – was not injured.
A second local incident occurred when a truck registered to Good’s Tire Service slid on Route 422 (Indiana Pike) into Kittanning Kwik Lube in Manor Township.
The white Ford Super Duty truck spilled about two dozen tires onto the grass and cracked its windshield, as well as other damage.
Manor Township Police Officer Jake Ingram was on-scene and told the Kittanning Paper weather was a direct cause.
“Weather conditions – the young man’s vehicle started to slip out as he was coming down the hill and he lost control. The (Automated Brake System) started to kick in; he tried to bring it back in and lost control. He tried to get in the other lane so he didn’t hit anybody – trying to be safe – and wound up wrecking his own truck,” Ingram said.
Kittanning #6 ambulance responded but did not have to treat the driver – Joshua Herb of Cowansville – or his passenger on-scene.
Manor Township Fire Department also responded to the accident, as did Mohney’s Towing to transport the vehicle.
Another fire department was found waiting atop the top of the hill if there were any other incidents throughout the day. None others in Manor Township were reported.
FirstEnergy Spokesperson Todd Meyers reported no power outages Monday afternoon in the county, with most of his calls flowing into Fayette County – which got quarter inch of ice and winds – leaving nearly 5,000 customers out of power.
“The wind alone wouldn’t have bothered the poles, and the ice alone wouldn’t have bothered the poles, but two plus two equaled four and (the poles) were on the ground. That’s been our hotspot,” Meyers said. “Armstrong is not in the cross-hairs on this one – at least so far.”
Meyers said the 16 accidents in Armstrong County through 6PM Monday were predictable.
“Once that slush freezes up overnight and if people are caught unaware – especially this late in the season; maybe people are thinking towards spring – but if they’re not careful, you can get into a guardrail or a utility line and knock over these power lines: we call those ‘car versus pole accidents,’ Meyers said. “A lot of times with these nuisance snows, those are the calls we will get.
“People just have to mind their P’s and Q’s when they’re driving – (First Energy) guys as well,” Meyers added.
FirstEnergy has two in-house weather forecasters that give warnings and possible conditions to employees days before. Forecasts yesterday predicted three-to-five inches of snow in the State College-area but no other weather advisories locally.