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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.

Deputy injured in crash while responding to fatal pedestrian accident

A Pottawatomie County sheriff’s deputy was injured in a crash Monday afternoon while he was responding to the scene of a pedestrian accident that resulted in the death of that victim. The first accident involving the pedestrian was reported about 11:52 a.m. in the 8400 block of Brangus Road. About five minutes later, the accident involving the sheriff’s deputy was reported at Garrett’s Lake Road and Kickapoo Street.
Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Capt. Travis Palmer was driving a Chevrolet Tahoe sheriff’s unit when that accident occurred. Palmer, who was eastbound on Garrett’s Lake Road, was en route to the Brangus Road accident to assist another deputy, said Shawnee Police Lt. Tom Pringle.
At the intersection, his unit collided with a Ford Mustang driven southbound on Kickapoo Street by a 17-year-old driver, Pringle said. Her name was not being released.

Palmer, who was trapped in the wreckage, was extricated by Shawnee firefighters and taken by REACT EMS ambulance to Unity Health Center, North Campus. There, he was treated for facial lacerations and a vertebrae injury, Pringle said, then was transferred by helicopter ambulance to an Oklahoma City hospital for further treatment.

Pringle said the teen’s parents took her by private vehicle to Midwest City Regional Hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.
Shawnee Patrol Officer Jay Keehn worked the scene and police are investigating, Pringle said, with Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers assisting with measurements and diagrams of the collision.

At Unity’s ER, fellow deputies and police officers from various agencies arrived to check on Palmer, said Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth.

Booth, also at the hospital, said Palmer was traveling “Code 3,” at the time of the accident, which meant he had activated lights and sirens in response to the emergency call.
“He was on the way to help someone,” the sheriff said. “Sometimes these things happen — we know that when we’re putting on the badge.”
Booth said Palmer was awake at the hospital and was concerned for others as he asked Booth about the other driver, as well as the pedestrian he was trying to go help.

Other deputies and state troopers worked the pedestrian accident on Brangus Road, where a man who was getting out of his vehicle was hit by that vehicle and reportedly died from his injuries, according to scanner reports.

That accident was determined to be on trust land, so Sac and Fox Nation Police were investigating that accident. No other information or the identity of the person involved in the fatal accident could be obtained from Sac and Fox tribal police as phone messages were not returned.

Wanette burglary solved, property returned

An overnight burglary at Wanette Tractor and Supply was solved within hours Wednesday after two suspects were arrested and the stolen property was recovered. Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Capt. Travis Palmer said the burglary was discovered upon opening the store Wednesday morning. The burglars pried open a door and took a laptop computer used by the business, Palmer said.  Deputy Scott Hawkins worked the case. Using evidence collected at the scene, Hawkins was able to identify two suspects and had both of them in custody by that afternoon, Palmer said. The computer also was recovered and returned to the business.  Arrested on complaints of burglary, second degree, were Jared Wilson, 19, and Brad Baxter, 20, Palmer said. Both remained jailed at the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center Friday, each held on $10,000 bond. Wilson also was held on a complaint of possession of stolen property, according to jail records. Palmer said Hawkins did a good job working the case, which will be forwarded to the district attorney’s office for consideration of any formal charges.