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Published: Tuesday, 12/11/2007

2 killed in Sylvania as ice blankets area

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Conditions have been just about perfect the last couple of days for dangerous, icy conditions. More freezing rain was expected overnight, but later today temperatures are forecast near 40, eliminating the possibility of freezing rain. There will, however, be rain, which could give way to snow later in the day. Conditions have been just about perfect the last couple of days for dangerous, icy conditions. More freezing rain was expected overnight, but later today temperatures are forecast near 40, eliminating the possibility of freezing rain. There will, however, be rain, which could give way to snow later in the day.
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Freezing rain that has blanketed northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan contributed to a crash in Sylvania that killed two people from Perrysburg, authorities said.

Those icy conditions were expected to continue into this morning with more freezing rain overnight, but temperatures were predicted to warm up into the low 40s by this afternoon.

Authorities believe that an ice-slickened U.S. 23 caused a crash in which Heather Richie, 26, the driver, and her passenger, Joseph Lee Bekker, 26, both of Perrysburg, were killed after their sport utility vehicle traveling southbound struck a guardrail and went over a bridge railing near Holland-Sylvania Road between Monroe Street and Sylvania Avenue and plunged about 40 to 50 feet onto Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.

The crash likely occurred late Sunday or early yesterday, but the SUV wasn't found until noon yesterday by some children walking along the railroad tracks, authorities said.

They called police; the woman and the man were pronounced dead at the scene at 12:22 p.m., said Bob Hannon, an investigator with the Lucas County Coroner's Office.

Ms. Richie was wearing a seat belt; Mr. Bekker was not and was partially thrown from the SUV, authorities said.

Conditions have been just about perfect the last couple days for dangerous, icy conditions, said Mike Abair, a meteor-

ologist at the Cleveland office of the National Weather Service.

As a result, schools across the region closed for the day yesterday, many events were canceled, and there were numerous traffic accidents.

State Rt. 795 at the ice-slickened Oregon Road intersection was closed to traffic in both directions for about two hours early yesterday following a two-vehicle crash that caused a tractor trailer to overturn, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

The driver of the rig, whose name was not released, was taken to an area hospital with minor injuries, troopers at the patrol's Bowling Green post said.

The crash occurred about

5:15 a.m. in Perrysburg Township. Traffic on the state route returned to normal about 7:30 a.m., troopers said.

About an hour later, several vehicles slid on ice and crashed into one another on Broadway near Western Avenue as well as near South Summit Street, causing traffic problems. There were no serious injuries, Toledo police said.

About 7 a.m. the volume of traffic accidents forced Toledo police to respond only to serious injury accidents and accidents that were blocking traffic.

Most of the roadways in the area dried up by early afternoon.

Later in the afternoon, driving conditions deteriorated again when fog descended on the area, causing scattered nonserious injury accidents, authorities said.

One of the fog-related accidents closed U.S. 20 between Oregon and Tracy roads in Perrysburg Township for about two hours last night, township police said.

A tractor trailer, which was eastbound on U.S. 20 about 6 p.m., drifted off the road. Part of the rig's load was spilled in the accident, authorities said.

When temperatures hover around freezing and the relative humidity is near 100 percent, the result is an ice-covered area, Mr. Abair said.

"As a snowflake falls, it melts as it goes through this warmer atmosphere and then, in the colder area, it tries to turn into snow again but it doesn't."

The cold surface air isn't deep enough for the rain to have enough time to turn back into snow, so instead those raindrops freeze on contact because everything on the ground is below freezing, Mr. Abair said.

Freezing rain typically causes more problems than snow because it cannot be cleared as easily, he said.

"You can shovel snow and move snow out of the way, but freezing rain adheres to everything - sidewalks, trees, power lines, everything," he said.

The freezing rain and fog had a minimal impact yesterday on operations at Toledo Express Airport, said Kris Nichter, the director of marketing, business development, and community affairs for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, which operates the airport.

A flight to Toledo from Cincinnati and its returning flight were canceled, but there were few delays and overall operations went smoothly, Mr. Nichter said.

The high humidity remained throughout the evening, causing a freezing fog that was expected to continue overnight with some areas of dense fog, Mr. Abair said.

More freezing rain was expected into the early morning hours with temperatures around 30 degrees, he said.

The good news, Mr. Abair said, is that rising temperatures are being forecast in the low 40s today, "so any rain that falls will be plain rain."

And there's a 90 percent chance of precipitation, so plan on bringing an umbrella out with you.

That rain could give way to snow in the late evening hours, but little or no accumulation is expected.

Tomorrow expect snow showers in the morning and more freezing rain in the evening, with a high near 36 and a low near 29.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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