Scores of accidents -- one fatal -- occur on icy roads during rush hour

January 24, 1996|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers TaNoah Sterling, Dan Thanh Dang, Ellen Gamerman and Mike Farabaugh contributed to this article.

Spotty sleet and rain made Central Maryland roads slick during morning rush hour yesterday, causing at least one fatal accident, several road closures and scores of collisions. Slippery roads played a part in the death of Mary Lynne Schubert, 49, of Annapolis, police said. Her 1989 Buick was struck by a 1987 Chevrolet Celebrity about 7:30 a.m. as she drove away from Lowry's gas station on Forest Drive in Annapolis. Ms. Schubert was taken by helicopter to Prince George's Trauma Center, where she died at 8:40 a.m.

The other driver, whose name was not released by police, was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center with leg injuries.

The icy weather hit just before rush hour yesterday and ended about 10 a.m. Forecasters had predicted some freezing precipitation in the morning, with temperatures hitting the mid-40s by midday. But temperatures didn't climb over 40 at Baltimore-Washington International Airport until nightfall and freezing rain was seen into the afternoon.

Police blamed many of yesterday's accidents on drivers who did not slow down. Most weather-related problems occurred along Interstate 70, especially at the Bethany Lane overpass in Ellicott City and at its intersections with Route 32 in Sykesville and U.S. 29 and U.S. 40 in Ellicott City.

State police closed a 15-mile stretch of I-70 between Mount Airy and Frederick from 7:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. yesterday after at least 43 traffic accidents during morning rush hour.

"It took us by complete surprise," said Sgt. Kevin Gardner of the Maryland State Police in Frederick.

In Ellicott City, 15 accidents were reported between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

"To handle 15 accidents in four hours is unusual," said Cpl. Fred Von Briesen, a Howard County police traffic investigator. "We usually don't have that many in a day."

In Anne Arundel, Monica Monique Johnson, 26, of the 500 block of Bellerive Drive in Arnold lost control of her Nissan on icy Naval Academy Bridge and was struck by a Cadillac driven by Donald Mayo, 25, of Severna Park.

Ms. Johnson was in critical condition at Prince George's Trauma Center yesterday. Mr. Mayo was not injured. That accident backed up traffic for miles as police closed the bridge for nearly two hours.

Safety officials said even they had problems traveling on the icy roads. "Going 25 to 30 mph is fast when you're stopping on solid ice," said Lt. Herman Edwards of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue.

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