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11 reported car accidents Wednesday morning

One injured, extracted with Jaws of Life

Posted: November 3, 2011 - 12:13am
A vehicle travels an icy North Douglas Highway under heavy morning fog on Wednesday. Due to slick roads, there were 11 accidents reported before noon on Wednesday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
A vehicle travels an icy North Douglas Highway under heavy morning fog on Wednesday. Due to slick roads, there were 11 accidents reported before noon on Wednesday.

There were 11 reported car accidents and one reported injury before noon on Wednesday morning as commuters struggled on icy roads, the first frost of the season.

“It’s pretty typical the first time that the roads are slippery for this to happen,” Juneau Police Department spokeswoman Cindee Brown-Mills said.

“There were no major accidents,” she said. “They were all small fender-benders.”

The one reported injury happened when a 1990 Toyota 4-Runner left the roadway and drove into a ditch as it traveled inbound on Glacier Highway. Two other cars landed in the same ditch in separate accidents, so at one point, all three cars were in the same ditch at the same time near the Point Lena Loop area, JPD Officer Chris Gifford said.

Responding police and fire crews had to extract the driver of the 4-Runner, Matthew Armstrong, 29, through the roof of his vehicle with a Jaws of Life device, said firefighter Brent Clancy. Armstrong was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries. He was later cited for careless driving.

Two other accidents occurred near the Norway Point area, Gifford said.

Another single-vehicle accident involved a 2008 Ford 350 driven by a 34-year-old man hitting a patch of ice and rolling over into a ditch in the 3200 block of Egan Drive.

Witness Rob Baysden said he was driving to work at the Coast Guard’s downtown District 17 command center a little before 6 a.m. when he saw the truck fishtail, flip over once onto its roof and land in the ditch.

Baysden said he immediately did a U-turn to go help, as four or five cars continued to drive past the scene. He yelled for a passing bicyclist to call 911, which the bicyclist was already trying to do.

The mother and son had managed to crawl out of the upside down car through a window in the few short minutes it took Baysden to arrive. But the father, who was in the passenger seat, was stuck in his seat belt, Baysden said. Baysden and the son together pulled the father from the car, legs out first.

“He was more shook up than anything else,” Baysden said.

Baysden stayed with them until police and fire crews arrived on scene at 6:13 a.m. No injuries were reported to police, according to the JPD Daily Bulletin, but Baysden said the everyone seemed OK when he left the scene.

“It was pretty bad,” he said about the incident by phone. “I certainly wasn’t expecting that on the way to work this morning.”

A JPD statement said speed and icy road conditions appeared to be a factor in some of the accidents, and urged drivers to slow down on the icy roads.

“Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, put extra distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you, and make sure your windshield and other windows are clear before getting into your car to drive,” the statement read.

The weather is slated to be wet and windy for the next five days, with a 90 percent chance of snow on Friday.

• Editor's note: This article has been changed to correct the spelling of Juneau Police Department Officer Chris Gifford's name.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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