Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2014 6:14 PM
Cold and rain turned deadly early Friday as two accidents involving 18-wheelers led to deaths on Interstate 10. They were the first two fatal accidents this year worked by Louisiana State Police Troop D, authorities said.
The weather resulted in a multitude of accidents Friday. Crash reports peaked between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., but picked up in the afternoon as roads and bridges began to ice over again, authorities said.
“It’s been very busy,” said Sgt. James Anderson, State Police Troop D spokesman. “It’s been frustrating in the sense we want the roadways to be open as badly as the motoring public does. Unfortunately the weather has not been cooperating.”
Sleet and light snow fell throughout most of Thursday night and a light drizzle continued most of Friday. The temperature was 30 degrees after midnight, but quickly fell into the 20s where temperatures remained all day Friday. Temperatures were expected to stay in the 20s Friday night, but reach into the upper 50s on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
Anderson said in a news release that a man was killed in a two-vehicle crash at 1:54 a.m. on the PPG Drive overpass (between mile markers 26 and 27, east of Sulphur). Three others were injured in the crash.
The man, whose name has not yet been released, was traveling east on I-10 when the 2001 Ford F-150 he was driving “began to rotate on an icy surface,” and stopped on the overpass, Anderson said. The man and a passenger got out of the vehicle. An 18-wheeler fatally hit the man and struck the truck, causing it to hit the passenger, Anderson said.
The passenger suffered moderate injuries, as did two other passengers in the truck.
Jennings man Donald Wayne Fortner, 60, was killed on an icy overpass just west of Jennings, Anderson said in a separate news release.
Fortner was traveling west on I-10 just after 5 a.m. when he lost control of his vehicle and crossed into the path of an 18-wheeler driven by Houston man Quincy M. Lewis, 42, Anderson said. The 18-wheeler struck the driver’s door of the car.
Lake Charles Police responded to 41 wrecks and two hit-and-run reports in the Lake Charles area between midnight and 4 p.m., said Cpl. Larry Moss, Lake Charles Police Department spokesman. In the afternoon, officers worked four wrecks at one time on I-210, Moss said.
“In light of current weather and icy conditions, it is likely that this number will continue to rise,” Moss said.
Calcasieu Sheriff’s deputies responded to more than 30 reports of crashes and worked seven, spokeswoman Kim Myers said.
Anderson said there were extra shifts working and troopers who normally work investigations were called out to work patrol.
Roads were closed then re-opened and vice versa as authorities worked to keep them ice free.
Several 18-wheelers were involved in an accident on the Mermentau River Bridge around 9 a.m. The accident was cleared, but the bridge remained closed most of the day.
Multiple crashes were also reported on the Sabine River bridge.