Holiday traffic slowed by rain

Dozens of accidents for travelers, shoppers

Most are fender benders

Five-car Beltway crash among mishaps reported

November 29, 2003|By Jason Song and Stephanie Tracy | Jason Song and Stephanie Tracy,SUN STAFF

Area police responded to dozens of accidents around the Baltimore region yesterday as holiday travelers and eager shoppers converged on rain-slick roads on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

A rush-hour collision involving a gas tanker truck and a sport utility vehicle that required the rescue of the driver -- as well as a five-car collision on the Baltimore Beltway -- were among the accidents that had officers scrambling.

"Most happened in shopping districts," said Sgt. Sam Worsham of the Anne Arundel County Police Department. "The rain didn't help any."

Three-quarters of an inch of rain fell by yesterday evening at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and it contributed to about 20 accidents each in Howard and Baltimore counties and 25 in Anne Arundel County. In many cases, Worsham said, harried shoppers took their eyes off the road at just the wrong moment.

"Most were fender benders," Worsham said.

Maryland State Police reported a fairly calm day on area highways. Traffic was lighter than normal because many workers took the day off and many holiday travelers weren't heading home until today or tomorrow, state police said.

State police at the Waterloo barracks, which oversees much of the Interstate 95 corridor near Baltimore, reported five minor accidents on the road--about normal for a rainy day.

Sgt. Gary Klos in the Annapolis barracks said troopers had responded to seven accidents by midday, which he called "a little more than usual."

"It's probably because of the rain," he said.

However, traffic was delayed for nearly an hour about noon yesterday when five cars crashed near Interstate 695 and Route 2 near Brooklyn in Anne Arundel County.

Accidents occurred throughout the day, although most of Howard County's happened about noon. "We had a rash of them," said Lt. Glenn Hansen, who attributed them to slick roads.

The most serious accident in the region occurred on Generals Highway in Crownsville when the driver of a sport utility vehicle struck a tanker truck carrying nearly 9,000 gallons of gasoline shortly before 7 a.m.

Richard R. Weaver Sr. of Crownsville was driving a 1996 GMC Jimmy west in the 1300 block of Generals Highway when he struck the truck, which was refilling a gas station and blocking traffic.

The SUV became wedged underneath the tanker, and Weaver was trapped for nearly half an hour before being pulled from his vehicle and taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He did not suffer any life-threatening injuries and was listed in stable condition yesterday afternoon.

The truck driver was not hurt.

The accident damaged some fuel valves and caused about 10 gallons of gasoline to leak from the tanker, prompting closure of Generals Highway while emergency workers contained the gas with foam.

The remaining fuel was transferred to another truck. The incident is under investigation, and the road reopened about noon, police said.

The National Weather Service was forecasting cloudy skies today and tomorrow but no significant rainfall.

John White, spokesman for AAA's mid-Atlantic chapter, said motorists looking to avoid traffic snarls might want to leave today. "It's a good, off-peak travel day," he said.

Sun staff writers Laura Barnhardt and Lisa Goldberg contributed to this article.

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