Public Safety

Icy roads cause fatal crash on I-80, collisions on I-380

Two police officers injured while working one of the wrecks

Traffic moves slowly on I-80 around a number of collisions in Coralville on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Traffic moves slowly on I-80 around a number of collisions in Coralville on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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Frigid temperatures and slick roads led to a string of collisions Thursday on Corridor interstates, including a fatal wreck on Interstate 80 near Coralville and another on Interstate 380 that injured two police officers.

Traffic crashes snarled morning and evening commutes, with drivers losing control along the S-curve on I-380 in Cedar Rapids and vehicles coming to a standstill for hours on Interstate 80 in Coralville on Thursday afternoon during heavy snowfall.

In Coralville, one person was killed in a crash that involved multiple vehicles near the First Avenue exit just before 4 p.m., according to the Iowa State Patrol and Iowa Department of Transportation. Limited details were available about the crash Thursday evening, but the Iowa DOT closed the westbound lanes of the interstate for a few hours and sent drivers on a detour to avoid the crash.


In Cedar Rapids, police said they responded to 58 wrecks by 3 p.m. Thursday.

According to the Cedar Rapids Police Department, two officers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries after their SUV was struck by another vehicle on I-380 South near 42nd Street NE on Thursday morning.

Public safety spokesperson Greg Buelow said the SUV was hit about 11 a.m. while officers were on the scene of another wreck. Buelow said the officers were using the SUV to divert traffic when it was struck by a vehicle that lost control.

The wreck was one of 15 collisions Thursday morning along I-380 stretching from 42nd Street to 76th Avenue. No serious injuries were reported, Buelow said.

From earlier today

The Cedar Rapids Police Department is asking drivers to "slow down" and avoid I380, near S curve.

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“The road conditions are poor, and motorists are losing control of their vehicles, either sideswiping other vehicles, running into the back of other vehicles, or going into the ditch,” Buelow said. “And, many vehicles are traveling too fast for the road conditions.”

The wind and heavy snowfall also caused reduced visibility, Buelow said.

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Another crash blocked the left lane of southbound I-380, north of downtown heading toward the S-curve, the Iowa Department of Transportation said Thursday morning. Yet another crash south of the S-curve, also on southbound I-380, blocked the right lane, although that scene was cleared by late morning.

Earlier Thursday morning, the city issued a warning to drivers that, because of the subzero temperatures, salt was ineffective in dissolving ice on the roadway and asked drivers to slow down and avoid the interstate if possible.

“Everyone, please slow down,” the department posted on its Facebook page. “Roads are extremely slick in areas especially on the interstate, overpasses and on/off ramps.”

A wind chill advisory was in effect until 1 p.m. Thursday for Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque, Benton, Linn and Jones counties, with wind chills as low as 35 below zero.

Even after the winds calm, though, the National Weather Service cautioned to still expect bitter cold — with highs near zero — worsened by snowfall throughout the day. The weather service predicted snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches in the Corridor area, with snow ending Thursday night.

While temperatures Friday are forecast to reach into the 20s, wind chills will make it seem much colder — reaching down to about 10 below.

Saturday is expected to be considerably warmer with highs around 40. But patchy fog and a chance of drizzle are expected.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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