OREM It may be April Fools' Day, but the ice storm that pummeled Utah County early Monday morning was no joke.
From before 6 a.m. to noon, more than 130 accidents or slide-offs were reported throughout Utah County, including 58 accidents on I-15 and 29 accidents in Orem stemming from the icy roads and hazardous driving conditions.
"I think (drivers) assumed it wasn't as bad as it was," said American Fork police officer Josh Christensen. "Some of the roads were an inch-thick (with) ice. They just didn't realize it was so bad."
A late Sunday and early Monday storm didn't drop much snow in Utah County but what came down froze on the roads and made them dangerously slick.
"It was definitely accident to accident," Christensen said. "We were short on guys and running like crazy."
There were four accidents and six slide-offs in American Fork between 6:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., but only one accident had injuries, Christensen said, adding that they were minor.
He said the storm was one of the top of the year and said that in American Fork, it was a bit more damaging than the Feb. 13 massive snowstorm that shut down roads, stranded drivers and blanketed the county, especially the northern and northwestern areas, in snow.
In Provo, officers blocked off the northbound lanes of University Parkway from 2230 North, near the Olive Garden restaurant, to the top of the hill around 800 East in Orem for several hours. The hill was very slick and icy.
Provo police officer Troy Cook said Orem officials requested the closure because there were several accidents at the top of the hill. Because traffic was stopped and backing up, emergency crews couldn't get through.
Orem officers counted nearly 30 accidents, including slide-offs, although the majority were minor. "Usually on these kinds of icy roads, people are going slow as it is," said Orem Police Lt. Doug Edwards. "You don't get the high-speed impact you often do in the summer time, or when the roads are dry. Days like this it's just kind of fender-benders."
Alpine and Highland had only two accidents, but as a precaution officials closed Highland Boulevard, which connects with Draper, for about an hour until plows could get things cleared off.
"With that last snowstorm it was just such a nightmare up there," said Sgt. Brian Gwilliam with Alpine and Highland police, referring to February's storm that left people stranded in their cars and children at school overnight. "We didn't want to go through that again."
And with the closing of state Route 92 on Monday, many students in the Alpine School District got excused absences because buses couldn't reach them. Students in the areas of Suncrest, Traverse Mountain and Pilgrim's Landing weren't able to get their schools, including Ridgeline and Fox Hollow elementary schools, Timberline Middle School, Lehi Junior High School and Lehi and Lone Peak high schools.
Parents had the option of driving their children to school after the roads were cleared or use buses, which resumed transportation at noon. Full bus service was provided in the afternoon.
There were 58 property-damage crashes, four crashes with minor injuries and 11 slide-offs on I-15, said UHP trooper Cameron Roden.
Near the exit for U.S.6 in Spanish Fork, a semi-truck spun sideways around 9 a.m., blocking all four lanes of northbound traffic, Roden said.
No other cars were involved, and the driver only needed help from UHP slowing traffic down so he had enough room to pull forward a bit and drive out, which took around 20 minutes, Roden said.
The early morning storm kept tow-truck driver Kenny Jones of Provo's Interwest Towing busy.
"I had four to five calls this morning, and I still got a couple I got to go on yet today," he said. He said Interwest Towing got calls for police-reported accidents, as well as individuals wanting help getting unstuck."It was a fair storm," he said. "I think what's happened is everybody's been enjoying the nice weather, then they got a case of the stupids and forgot what ice was like."
Contributing: Amy K. Stewart E-mail: [email protected]
E-mail: [email protected]