Northern Counties Freeze in Winter Storm

Small town America became that much smaller with many East Texans staying indoors during a winter storm.

Fearing sleet and ice could put their students and bus drivers in danger, most Wood County superintendents closed their schools Tuesday.

At first glance, drivers traveling north on Hwy. 69 thought a bridge outside Mineola was ice-free; however, an unfortunate few learned otherwise.

"Three or four cars have spun out of control," said driver James Walker. "I was going about 40 miles an hour, and I just lost control."

TexDot crews say a combination of iced roads and high speed traffic are responsible for dozens of accidents in the area.

"Everywhere we've been today, we've seen cars thrown off in a ditch," said Barnie Trussell, a TexDot crew chief. "People just need to be more cautious and aware."

TexDot put up extra warning signs and electronic advisories to alert drivers. Authorities with TexDot say the northwest portion of Wood County was the hardest hit. Maintenance teams concentrated their efforts on bridges near Yantis and major thoroughfares like State Hwy. 154 and U.S. Highways 69 and 80.

  "The public can help us by being more cautious and paying attention to the space between their car and the one in front of them," said Keith Johnson, a maintenance supervisor with TexDot-Mineola. "And if it's possible, they should avoid making any unnecessary trips today and tomorrow."

TexDot officials say weather conditions overnight will determine whether roadways improve.

   Kerri Panchuk, reporting.