By BRIAN SMITH
In addition to wreaking havoc with any travel plans, the ice is believed to have contributed to one death in Parker County over the weekend.
According to Parker County deputies’ preliminary reports, witness statements and evidence indicate an ATV accident Saturday in the 400 block of Cutters Trail south of Weatherford occurred after the driver lost control of the vehicle on the icy roadway, Deputy Danie Huffman said.
Sixty-three-year-old J. Horner, of Granbury, was pronounced deceased at the scene shortly before 3 p.m., according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner. A ruling on the manner and cause of death was pending Monday morning.
Emergency responders found the vehicle on its passenger side, balanced on a rock, with the man trapped between the vehicle roll bar and the ground, according to the sheriff’s office.
Icy sleet covering roadways that were passable Friday quickly deteriorated going into Saturday. In Parker County, TxDOT focused on the Interstate 20 corridor, impassable in many areas for an extended period of time leaving many motorists stranded on the highway. After several hours above freezing Sunday afternoon, Interstate 20 through Parker County was again moving Monday.
“It’s day five of a 24/7 operation,” TxDOT spokesman Michael Peters said.
TxDOT was working in teams of two to four motorgraders in tandem to clear the ice and slush from the roadways, he said.
“It’s been a constant effort over the last five days to keep the roads open and traffic moving,” Peters said, adding that crews were struggling with four inches of rock solid ice that adhered to bridges.
TxDOT used as much material as they could on the ice but it would not penetrate, Peters said.
“This was a major ice event not normally seen in North Texas,” Peters said. “Our crews have never stopped working. They are working around the clock until the icy conditions improve.”
On Interstate 20, TxDOT went car to car trying to keep folks moving, according to Peters.
Over the weekend, the problem on I-20 from Fort Worth to Ranger Hill to the west was trucks parking in the lanes of traffic.
TxDOT worked with DPS to get them to the shoulder, Peters said.
Though the weather was widespread, affecting over half the state, additional road crews arrived from other areas over the weekend to assist efforts in North Texas, according to Peters.
With some area gas stations reportedly running out of fuel, TxDOT also reportedly sent fuel trucks to the area to help motorists who had run out of gas.
The warmer conditions Sunday afternoon helped improve roadway conditions and even Ranger Hill to the west was passable Monday, according to DPS.
“This is as bad as I’ve seen it as far as being just completely shut down with nothing moving,” Dave Jacobsen, a native of Sioux Falls, S.D. and a trucker for 25 years, said while sitting at Love’s Truck Stop Saturday afternoon riding out the storm that arrived Thursday night. “Not sure how long I’m going to be stuck here.”
Jacobsen was moving a load of auto parts to South Carolina from California before things began to come to a complete crawl. Roads to the west and east of Weatherford were shut down that afternoon, causing a backup into Parker County.
Entrance and exit ramps off I-20 were completely blocked by traffic at times over the weekend with truckers simply finding any space they could to park their rigs and ride out the storm.
Petro truck stop off Santa Fe Drive was completely full of trucks with each of its 400 spaces reportedly taken Saturday. Those that couldn’t fit into truck stop lots parked nearby, causing some issues with some motorists.
With the exception of trying to keep traffic moving amidst the trucks, Weatherford police reported few other problems over the weekend, according to WPD Sgt. Dennis Whitford. He said with the exception of a few minor accidents, it had been a quiet weekend.
Texas Highway Patrol worked many wrecks in Parker County over the weekend but most were minor with no serious injuries reported, DPS spokesman Senior Trooper Gary Rozzell said.
Mail service in Parker County was also affected. The U.S. Post Office in Aledo reported that they were unable to make deliveries on Saturday but deliveries appeared to be going OK Monday morning.
Trucks unable to make deliveries because of the weather also affected grocery stores. Albertson’s Assistant Store Manager Brian Meason said the first milk and bread deliveries since Thursday came in Monday morning. Meason said the main bread and milk trucks were expected in Monday afternoon with the Borden truck making a delivery early Monday morning.
“Other than that, we’re in pretty good shape,” Meason said. “Milk and bread deliveries are a daily thing, so it has been kind of thin.”
Weatherford road workers continued Monday to work around the clock on keeping major thoroughfares clear for traffic. Director of Public Works Manny Palacios said his crews had been working nonstop since Thursday, sanding bridges and overpasses in preparation of the storm.
While Sunday’s brief warmup with sunshine did cause ice to melt, a hard freeze overnight along with freezing fog made the trek to work for those working a concern. All area schools were closed Monday, giving students, teachers and staff an extended weekend.
Parker County offices were also closed Monday.
Weatherford and Hudson Oaks canceled trash pickup Monday, as well.