Ice, blowing snow make travel difficult; region under blizzard watch Tuesday, WednesdayFARGO – In an accident that bore some eerie similarities to one that killed four North Dakota State University students near Alexandria, Minn., on Feb. 20, a Fargo man and his passenger were injured when his east-bound vehicle crossed the Interstate 94 median and struck the back of a westbound semi trailer.
By: Tammy Swift, INFORUM
FARGO – In an accident that bore some eerie similarities to one that killed four North Dakota State University students near Alexandria, Minn., on Feb. 20, a Fargo man and his passenger were injured when his east-bound vehicle crossed the Interstate 94 median and struck the back of a westbound semi trailer.
Christopher Schmit, 29, was driving east about four miles west of Medina early Sunday afternoon when he lost control of his vehicle on icy roads. Schmit’s Toyota Tacoma crossed the median, entering the westbound lanes of I-94, where it struck the rear left wheels of a semitrailer driven by Mazur Vitaliy of Wheeling, Ill., according to reports from the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Schmit’s vehicle spun out in the westbound lane and stopped, facing south in both westbound lanes. Vitaliy attempted to stop, but struck the left side of Schmit’s vehicle with his front end. Vitaliy’s semi rolled onto its passenger side in the median, where it still partially blocked westbound and eastbound lanes.
Schmit and his passenger, Mikki Schmit, 25, Fargo, were taken by ambulance to the Jamestown (N.D.) Regional Medical Center and then airlifted to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo. Christopher Schmit was listed in “guarded condition,” while Mikki Schmit is in satisfactory condition, according to a Sanford spokesperson.
Vitaliy was uninjured.
A dangerous cocktail of wet snow, glare ice and freezing temperatures Sunday kept the North Dakota Highway Patrol busy as officers responded to “half a dozen” accidents in the Fargo area, said Sgt. Troy Hischer. That number didn’t include multiple vehicles that wound up in the ditch.
“We were busy this morning and then the roads warmed up, and then they refroze again. The interstate turned to basically a sheet of ice at roughly around 4 o’clock this afternoon, and now it’s icy throughout the whole eastern part of the state,” Hischer said Sunday evening.
A Fergus Falls, Minn., man received minor injuries early Sunday when his vehicle went off Interstate 94 in Clay County, southeast of Moorhead, and rolled in the ditch. Zachary Schrom, 26, was treated and released at a Fargo hospital.
Within city limits, Fargo police officer said there were “at least a couple” of minor, weather-related accidents in the city, including one in which a vehicle struck a fire hydrant.
Travelers throughout the region faced roads made slippery by sticky, wet, blowing snow, with accumulations in the area ranging from 2 inches in the north to 6 ½ inches in Valley City.
Weather watchers warned that more winter weather is on its way. The region will be under a blizzard watch Tuesday and Wednesday.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525