Officials: One dead in wreck near Portales

CMI staff photo: Christina Calloway This Freedom Aire van was involved in one of the three accidents reported Friday afternoon that took place on U.S. 70 between Wal-Mart and Sunland Inc. Officials say state police and area law enforcement responded to at least 40 accidents Friday in Roosevelt County.

CMI staff photo: Christina Calloway
This Freedom Aire van was involved in one of the three accidents reported Friday afternoon that took place on U.S. 70 between Wal-Mart and Sunland Inc. Officials say state police and area law enforcement responded to at least 40 accidents Friday in Roosevelt County.

By Christina Calloway
ccalloway@pntonline.com

The area’s first bout of winter weather caused at least 40 automobile accidents in Roosevelt County, at least one resulting in a fatality.

Officials blamed icy roads for the multiple accidents that left Roosevelt General Hospital’s emergency room packed and area law enforcement responding to vehicle accidents non-stop as of 8 p.m.

State Police Spokesman Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said a 4-year-old female was killed on U.S. 70 in the only fatal accident state police responded to, but didn’t have any further information on the accident.

In Curry County, Emergency Management Director Dan Heerding said the roads were pretty clear except for a one-vehicle rollover that took place on U.S. 60-84. The details of that accident were unknown as of press deadline.

“It was a pretty quiet day in respects of traffic,” Heerding said.

Conditions were the opposite for Roosevelt County according to Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Malin Parker, who said state police and law enforcement officials were responding to one accident after the next.

“Road conditions are treacherous, do not travel unless you absolutely must,” Parker said.

He added roads in and out of Portales can be closed at any time due to worsened weather conditions and accidents, but any decisions will be made by state police.

“We have worked more wrecks than I can count (Friday),” Parker said. “So many crashes, people were not reporting them. Everything from property damage to major-injury crashes. When that (cold) front hit, it went crazy.”

Parker said some officers were working two to three accidents at a time and watching others happen while they were responding to previous accidents.

The National Weather Service called Friday’s weather the first part of a one-two punch that should bring more winter weather over the weekend for the state.

A winter storm watch is in effect for Roosevelt and Curry counties and will remain in effect until Monday morning.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Andy Church said the area should expect light to moderate snow to fall this afternoon and continue through Sunday night, with the heaviest snow occurring tonight.

Church predicts about 6 inches of snow, but said road conditions should be safer than Friday’s.

“These will be snow-packed roads as oppose to a sheet of ice,” Church said.

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