Between roughly 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. Wednesday there were 15 traffic accidents in Minot, including one where a city bus was rear-ended, all of which made for a bad traffic day. The final tally by 5 p.m. only showed one more accident after that morning cluster.
"Until the sand trucks were out and got things sanded the roads were pretty slick," said Sgt. Winston Black of the Minot Police Department, who provided the final numbers. Only two incidents involved injury, but no transport was needed. A driver had complained of head pain and drove to the hospital.
City intersections along Broadway, both north and south, saw the most accidents. The bad day began, according to unofficial police reports, with two accidents within about 15 minutes of each other, called in at 6:53 a.m. and 7:09 a.m., at North Broadway's intersection with West University Avenue. That one was followed at 7:51 a.m. by a three-car accident in the 100 block of Sixth Street Southwest, and things just got worse from there on.
These two damaged vehicles were parked in the parking lot of Jerome’s Collision Center on North Broadway Wednesday morning.
The intersection at 16th Avenue Southwest and Broadway had five accidents within an hour and a half, and another accident occured when motorists attempted to avoid an uncleared accident along 37th Avenue Southwest.
"I suppose people are in a hurry," said Dana Larsen, the county's highway engineer. "People were on (Christmas) break and now they're getting back into things."
Larsen's primary responsibility is the county highway system. He said that there were trucks out in the county sanding the roads and "we had more people out today."
"We've had five vehicles since midnight. Only one was an accident, the other four were just vehicles in the ditch," said Capt. Bob Barnard of accidents in the county outside the city limits. "I would say that's not unusual for a winter day so we haven't seen a great increase in accidents, but maybe a little more than normal in the ditch."
Prior to the day's crashes in the city at least one person had called police dispatchers requesting sand for portions of 13th Street Southeast, but despite road crew efforts it seemed that the winter weather was getting the best of city roads.
By mid-afternoon Wednesday, John's Autobody on South Broadway had seen a good share of the collision work, probably thanks to their location which is near where most of the accidents occured. When called, Jerome's Collision Center on North Broadway said no vehicles had been towed to them yet on Wednesday, and Nybakken Body Shop on Third Street Northeast had only three or four vehicles with only minor damage.
"We've had about 12 drop-offs and five totaleds," said Gary Schneider of John's Autobody. "That's no good for people," he said, but he is glad nobody seemed to be getting injured in Wednesday's crashes.
"Sand trucks have been out all night and they have been out all day (Wednesday)," said Rick Hair, the street superintendent for Minot Public Works. "Normally we do about 4,000 (tons) in a year and we're just about at 3,000 for just this (season)," he said about the amount of sand the street system has used so far. The city has more sand on order to hopefully be enough to carry through winter.
The range for "this year" that Hair uses is usually from November, when sand is typically first needed for the streets, through March, when the roads start to improve.
"We had a lot of moisture in the air (Tuesday) with heavy fog," Hair said Wednesday, explaining why the roads were extra slick. "Now the temperature is just below freezing and so things are starting to melt."
"We've got a lot of people who aren't from around here. I had a buddy who got t-boned today," he said. "People have to slow down."