Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Paul Koenig And Rachel Ohm
Snow showers and freezing rain fell throughout central Maine beginning mid-morning Monday and into the night, but the slick driving conditions during the evening commute didn’t appear to cause much trouble for drivers.
Police scanner traffic indicated that several vehicles slid off the road in the capital area, but emergency dispatchers didn’t report any major accidents.
In Winthrop, police and rescue personnel were surprised there weren’t any serious accidents, said Josh Wheeler, deputy chief of Winthrop Ambulance Service.
“We were fully expecting to see a number of accidents tonight. So far, even though conditions have been fairly bad, we haven’t seen anything significant,” Wheeler said.
No major accidents caused by the weather were reported in Somerset County as of about 8 p.m., said Officer Joseph Jackson of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department.
He said the roads were not good, but sand trucks were out sanding the roads.
An accident on Unity Road in Benton, in which a vehicle struck a telephone pole, was reported. But, according to scanner traffic, there were no injuries, and the damage to the pole was determined to not be a major traffic hazard.
“We haven’t had any accidents due to the weather. We’ve been very lucky,” said dispatcher Diane Serino of Franklin County Communications.
A dispatch officer for the Waterville Police Department also said ther had been no major accidents reported in Waterville early Monday night. In Waldo County, a dispatch officer also said that there had been a few minor incidents of cars slipping off the roads, but no injuries were reported in any of the accidents.
A dispatcher for Central Maine Regional Communications Center in Augusta said there had only been a couple of reports of vehicles sliding off the road but nothing serious.
The Augusta Police Department reported a fender bender in a parking lot near the State House and an accident in Hallowell during the evening. Capitol Police Chief Russell Gauvin said, in the parking lot accident, a truck scraped another vehicle with a plow while pulling out of a parking spot.
Despite the lack of serious incidents on the roads, the Maine Department of Labor urged employers and employees in a press release sent Monday to take precautions against the danger posed by walking and working outdoors in inclement winter weather.
Annually, slips and falls on ice and snow lead to more than 25,000 days of lost time for almost 700 workers, totaling more than $1.5 million in medical costs, according th release from the department.
The total costs to Maine workers, employers and insurance providers tops $2.3 million annually for falls related to ice and snow, according to the release.
“Although slipping and falling on snow and ice may seem an inevitable nuisance in the winter, the costs are real,” Gov. Paul LePage said in the release. “Hundreds of Maine workers are seriously hurt enough to miss work.”
The department advised employees to stay safe by taking their time when traveling, wearing proper footwear, keeping hands free and using handrails, not carrying heavy loads across ice or snow, and not using their hands or arms to break the full weight of a fall.