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Troopers stay busy responding to wrecks

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Firefighters pick up debris that spilled out of a truck that crahsed and overturned after hitting a patch of ice Monday on Mobleys Bridge Road. Eastern Pines fire fighters had to extract two people from the truck after they were trapped inside.

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Beth Velliquette

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

With the sun shining after the big weekend storm, people got back to their business and out on the roads on Monday, keeping first responders busy.

For some, getting back to business turned out to be trouble since the roads were deceptively dangerous. While many of the secondary roads out in the country looked clear and dry, there were enough icy patches that caused wrecks to keep the five N.C. Highway Patrol troopers in Pitt County busy most of the day.

There were no reports of fatalities, but there were injuries and damaged vehicles, troopers said.

From midnight until about 3:30 p.m., the highway patrol responded to about eight wrecks, most likely caused by ice on the roadways.

There were some minor ones in the morning, but about 10:15 a.m., the troopers and Eastern Pines Fire and EMS received a call about a truck that had overturned at 2582 Mobleys Bridge Road south of Grimesland. When they arrived, they saw a white Ford Ranger that had been smashed on all sides, with the front windshield and roof crushed down on the driver’s side of the truck. 

Three adults were inside and one managed to get out on her own, but the two others were trapped inside the truck, and Eastern Pines Fire firefighters had to extract them from inside. Two of the adults were transported to Vidant Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries, according to Trooper Steven Ziemba.

The trooper said he’s seen it before at that same spot and at other places on the secondary roads in Pitt County. A large stand of pine trees kept the sun from shining down and melting the ice, and there was a 300-foot section of ice on the road.

Otherwise, the road was clear and dry, so the icy patch took drivers by surprise.

The truck was heading west on Mobleys Bridge Road and had just passed Westbrooke Road when it hit the ice. The driver lost control of the truck, and it took out a mailbox, ran through a deep ditch and overturned, Ziemba said.

Ziemba, who has lived in Pitt County most of his life, said that section of the road often has a bad patch of ice after a winter storm.

“When they’re running 65 to 70 mph and they hit that 300 feet of ice, it’s not good for you,” Ziemba said. “You hit ice at that speed, you’re going to crash. There’s no saving it.”

The state Department of Transportation was busy on the main roads, and other secondary roads had similar patches of ice in their shady spots, he said.

From midnight to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, the highway patrol responded to wrecks on MacGregor Downs, Old River, Mobleys Bridge, Holland and Major Smith roads, along with Kings Crossroads, U.S. 264 near exit 63 and U.S. 258, according to Sgt. Billy Beaman of the State Highway Patrol.

Meanwhile, inside the city limits of Greenville, officers responded to 23 wrecks from midnight Friday until 4 p.m. on Monday.

“To put that into perspective, it is not uncommon to have close to that many in a single day, even when it’s not snowing,” said Kristen Hunter, public information officer for the Greenville Police Department.

“Fortunately, this wasn’t a big traffic-related weather event for Greenville,” she said. “We attribute that to the inclement weather falling on a weekend, students being out of town, and people heeding the warnings and staying off the roads.”

Ziemba warned drivers that since the temperature is not supposed to go above freezing until this afternoon, they should drive carefully, maintain a reasonable speed and look ahead on the roadway for possible patches of ice. Tall trees next to the road could be a sign that there might be ice on the road.

Reporter Sharieka Botex contributed to this article.

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or 252-329-9566.

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