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Two Recent OSP Car Crashes Caused by Black Ice

Date: December 30, 2010
Location: Highway 22 West of Salem & Highway 26 near the Timber Junction
Names: Ray Henschel, Krystal Duff, Garland Oriet, Ingeborg Hoelzer

Black Ice on roadways caused numerous crashes recently. What is black ice? And what causes it?

Black ice is a thin layer of transparent glazed ice over a roadway that is virtually impossible to see. Since the black asphalt can still be seen under the ice, hence the name “black ice”. It makes for extremely dangerous driving conditions.

Between 6:00am and 10:00am on Thursday December 30 the Oregon State Police Northern Command Center received over 40 reports of vehicle crashes in Northwest Oregon. Roads covered in black ice were a factor in many of the crashes. Two such crashes involved Oregon State Police (OSP) vehicles.

The first incident occurred at about 6:45 AM when an officer lost control of his patrol car on icy roads and was struck by another vehicle. OSP Trooper Ray Henschel had been driving westbound on Highway 22 near milepost 20 west of Salem responding to a reported motor vehicle crash when his 2003 Crown Victoria police car struck a patch of black ice. Trooper Henschel’s patrol car lost traction and was struck by another westbound car, a grey 2006 Chevrolet Malibu driven by Krystal Duff, age 28 of Salem. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts and neither was injured.

In a separate incident, an OSP patrol car parked at the scene of a crash on Highway 26 near the Timber Junction was struck by another vehicle that had lost control on the icy roadway. At about 2:30 PM Senior Trooper Garland Orient was standing outside of his 2008 Dodge Charger patrol car on the westbound shoulder of Highway 26 near milepost 41 when a 2002 Toyota Avalon was driven by Ingeborg Hoelzer, age 76 of Forest Grove lost control on the icy roadway. The Toyota slid across the westbound lane and into the front of Sr. Trooper Oriet’s patrol car; fortunately, he was able to jump out of the way and wasn’t injured. Mr. Hoelzer was also uninjured, but both the Toyota Avalon and the Dodge Charger police car were heavily damaged in the collision.

When temperatures drop, drivers need to be alert for icy and snowy road conditions. Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Transportation ask everyone to slow down, increase following distances so you can safely stop, stay alert and drive carefully. Potentially dangerous driving conditions are factoring into more traffic crashes and other roadside emergencies. Be watchful for emergency workers and their vehicles – police car, ambulance, tow vehicle, or public safety vehicle – on the roadside with emergency lights flashing. If you are in an accident, our Portland accident lawyers are just a phone call away.

Other tips to remember:

  • Plan ahead to give yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination.
  • Stay informed about weather conditions, potential traffic hazards and highway closures.
  • Check road conditions by visiting www.TripCheck.com or calling 5-1-1.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving starting with good tires, a good battery, and a full tank of gas.
  • Carry an emergency kit and chains or traction tires, especially if traveling over mountain passes.
  • Drive according to conditions. If it’s wet, icy, snowy or foggy, slow down and increase your following distance behind other vehicles to at least a four-second distance. Keep in mind that conditions may not be safe to drive at the posted speed.
  • Be alert for potential icy conditions during cold weather on bridges, curves and shaded areas.
  • Use headlights even in daylight to help other drivers see you.
  • Don’t use cruise control in wet, icy, snowy or foggy conditions.