e911

Weather Conditions Still Treacherous

All Pottawatomie County roads remained slick and hazardous and many were littered with stalled vehicles Wednesday, so officials are still urging people to stay home.

Don Lynch, Shawnee/Pottawatomie County emergency management director, said the stalled cars are making it difficult for crews to clear roadways, and continuing northerly winds Wednesday were expected to lead to further drifting. Several road closures remained mid-day Wednesday, including the southbound on-ramp to U.S. 177 from Kickapoo Spur and the northbound U.S. 177 off-ramp to Farrall Street, both because of abandoned vehicles, Lynch said.

Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Capt. Travis Palmer said he still was discouraging travel Wednesday as deputies, with four-wheel drive units, were having difficulty maneuvering roadways. “The highways are snow-packed and the east and west roads are full of snow drifts,” Palmer said, after making his way up U.S. 177 from Asher. “And the wind child out here is brutal.” And while the sun was shining Wednesday, Palmer said people shouldn’t get a false sense of security because nothing was melting. “Unless it’s an extreme emergency, don’t get out,” Palmer said, adding wrecker services were hours behind getting people unstuck after they chose to get out. There hadn’t been any reports of major accidents or injuries related to the storm, he said, but wanted to urge caution for those “playing” in the snow. A woman was killed in Oklahoma City Tuesday night, Palmer said, while being pulled behind a vehicle on some type of fashioned-sled. He advises against doing that, as there’s no control over that object in the snow. “It’s fun, but I don’t think people realize how dangerous that is,” Palmer said, encouraging everyone to have fun, but to do so in a safe manner.

Lynch said city of Shawnee street crews were continuing to plow major streets, adding most major streets have at least one lane open in both directions, but all secondary streets remained snow packed and treacherous. “We continue to urge people to stay off the roads unless it is an absolute emergency,” Lynch said. No major power outages were reported as of mid-Wednesday, although there were some reports of water pressure issues in the city of Tecumseh. A vehicle wreck damaged a fire hydrant on North Broadway Tuesday night, Lynch reported, resulting in a water line failure and low water pressure. The line break has been repaired but during the process an electrical problem occurred at the water treatment plant. Demand Wednesday morning created a situation of nearly no water pressure in Tecumseh. Crews reportedly got the electrical service restored and the pumps started, but as tanks are filling, water pressure is low, said Melvin Potter, Tecumseh’s emergency manager and E-911 director.

Both the E-911 center and city of Tecumseh were being flooded with calls reporting water issues. Potter said they’ve had numerous calls relating to the water issues and people asking about road conditions.  “We have had no major problems reported besides some semi-trucks tying up traffic,” Potter said.

Tecumseh Assistant Police Chief J.R. Kidney said main roads were somewhat better Wednesday, but secondary roads remained treacherous and several vehicles continued to get stuck. “It’s still 12 degrees,” Kidney said Wednesday afternoon. “Even though the sun is out, everything is still frozen and slick.”

The winter storm closed a number of businesses.

The Shawnee Fire Department responded with REACT EMS to calls and responded to one residential smoke alarm activation, with REACT responding to nine calls since midnight.

Greg Reid, director of REACT EMS, said most of the calls were for people who couldn’t drive themselves to the hospital, including a woman in labor. Two women were taken to the hospital for labor Tuesday.  Overall, Reid said mid-Wednesday things had been going fairly well, but said even the large ambulances were sometimes getting stuck on snow-packed roadways, so he still advises motorists to stay home. Luckily, paramedics hadn’t responded to any calls of hypothermia in these conditions, he said.

Lynch reports the cities of Asher and Maud had similar road issues.  The Shawnee Police Department responded since midnight to at least four non-injury accidents.

Woman surrenders to deputies after threatening suicide, pointing weapon at them

Six Pottawatomie County sheriff’s deputies kept a level head and held their fire when a Pink woman who had been threatening suicide pointed a weapon at them earlier this week. After negotiations, the woman surrendered and dropped the weapon, which looked like a 9 mm black pistol, but was actually a BB gun. Capt. Travis Palmer said the woman, whose name is not being released, called 911 and said she was armed with a 9 mm pistol and was going to kill herself. The E-911 center in Tecumseh was able to track her call to the Pink area, Palmer said, and Deputy Johnny Austin began negotiations with her over the phone for about one hour. Palmer said deputies used the tracking system to pinpoint the general area of her location, but they weren’t sure exactly which residence she was calling from. Several deputies responded to that general area. The woman said she was going to kill herself or force deputies to kill her as Austin continued phone negotiations. About 30 minutes later, she agreed to come out of the house. Deputies Randy Willis, Jimmy Brewer, Scott Hawkins, Brian Wolfe and Palmer went to the home with Austin and REACT EMS paramedics were at the scene in a standby mode, he said. The woman, reported to be in her 40s, didn’t come out of the home they expected and exited a nearby travel trailer, Palmer said. She took a stance and pointed her weapon at all six deputies, and while they are trained to protect their lives from shooters, none of them fired their sidearms. “I was proud of them — they took cover” behind one patrol car, Palmer said, as negotiations continued. Deputies were a distance away as the woman put the gun to her head and then pointed it at the deputies again, he said, then there was more negotiations. Austin kept talking to her, Palmer said, and the woman eventually decided to throw the weapon a few feet away from her. She was taken into custody to be medically checked and undergo evaluation, Palmer said. In the end, deputies learned the black pistol, which looked just like a 9 mm handgun, was a BB gun, “but we didn’t know that at the time,” Palmer said. Any of the deputies could have shot her to protect their own lives, he said, but none did. “The officers were professional and held their fire. I don’t know why,” he said. “The guys did a tremendous job,” Palmer added, praising Austin’s negotiation efforts. Palmer also said dispatchers at the 911 center did a great job of coordinating dispatch efforts as the deputies worked the scene. Afterward, all of the deputies were debriefed about the experience. Sheriff Mike Booth said they’ve all asked why none of them shot the woman. He said something — maybe “intuition” — stopped them. And just like officers are trained and subconsciously pull their sidearms when someone threatens or points a weapon at them, Booth said sometimes deputies pull their guns and can tell something’s not quite right. Undersheriff Dave Balleweg said there was great teamwork involved at the scene. In the end, what mattered was that no one was hurt and the woman’s life, despite her desire to end it, was spared