Freezing rain causes high number of wrecks in Washington County

Washington County got the brunt of some freezing rain late Thursday during the evening commute. It made a mess of the roads, creating dangerous conditions for drivers and causing a lot of car accidents across the area.

Between 4pm and 9pm Forest Grove Fire and Police Departments responded to six ice-related wrecks. Some perspective: Forest Grove Fire spokesman Matt Johnston said the department usually responds to three to four wrecks per week. 

The ice on Gales Creek Road was especially treacherous. One car took out a power pole there, and around the corner on Goff Road, another car hit a light post.

A 3,500 gallon propane tanker tipped over on a slippery NW Sheerer Hill Road. Firefighters had to walk down a gravel road to get to that truck. 

Johnston said most of the wrecks looked much worse than they were. Miraculously, no one was injured in any of them.

“A lot of them are in curves. So people are not navigating them at appropriate speeds for the icy conditions, so they've hit power poles, light poles, trees,” Johnston said.

Power crews and de-icing trucks followed Forest Grove emergency responders around, making repairs and spraying brine on the streets to melt the ice. 

It was more of the same throughout Washington County.

Sheriff office spokesman Sgt. Bob Ray said deputies responded to 15 different ice-related wrecks, also between 4pm and 9pm on Thursday. 

One person drove an SUV through a fence at 50 miles per hour.  The fence and the truck are worse for the wear, but Sgt. Ray said the driver wasn’t injured.  

In fact, Sgt. Ray said there were only a handful of minor injuries, like bumps and bruises, in those ice-related wrecks.  He said he thought many people couldn’t tell if they were driving on ice or water. 

Johnston said the same thing.  He said many drivers didn’t realize how bad the roads were. 

Both Johnston and Sgt. Ray want to remind drivers going in to winter, when temperatures drop, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Slow down, and pay attention to what’s on the roads.