MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Idling in a restaurant parking lot sat a tanker truck, with a bent rear axle and damaged front end. It was one of five semi-trailer trucks that spun-out or jackknifed along a slippery stretch of Interstate 35 near Forest Lake.
“I guess I’ve never seen that much stuff happening all at one time,” said tow truck owner, Dan Bothman.
Bothman run’s Dan’s Towing in Forest Lake, which is one of several wrecker companies dispatched to clear a huge mess near I-35 and Minnesota highway 8.
Shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday morning, the latest winter storm swept across the north metro and dropped over six inches of snow on congested roadways. No sooner did tow trucks get one stranded vehicle clear, when along came several more, sliding and careening into ditches.
Traffic management cameras were rolling as several motorists lose control on the slippery roadway and plow into ditches and other stopped vehicles. One SUV ran into the back of a parked tanker truck.
An estimated total of 24 vehicles went off the road in a short stretch of I-35 just north of Forest Lake.
“This was just happening steady as everybody out there … trying to take stuff out and people were sliding by you, within a foot of you,” Bothman said.
Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured.
“It was really just a chain reaction situation,” Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said.
Closer to Lino Lakes near I-35W and Lake Avenue, another bunch of vehicles were off the road. Emergency vehicles blocked the right lane as tow trucks and drivers maneuvered about to free the stuck vehicles.
At least one police vehicle was seen in the ditch as well as a SUV that rolled onto its side.
“Simply put, people were just driving too fast. Once one of them lost control and crashed the others tried to slow down to avoid it. They soon realized they were going too fast as well,” Roeske said.
It’s a fair and simple reminder, for when that next snow falls.
Statewide, the State Patrol reports responding to 230 crashes, including 25 reported injuries. There were at least 369 vehicles that spun out and left the roadways as of noon on Thursday.