Rain, snow cause crashes
A winter storm swept through Becker County late Tuesday afternoon, causing numerous minor accidents in a relatively short period of time.
Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon noted that his officers had been called to the scene of four accidents in "just a little over an hour."
At 4:50 p.m., a rollover was reported near Audubon on County Road 15, just one mile south of the Highway 10 intersection. The juvenile male driver was uninjured, Gordon said.
The sheriff's department was also called to assist at the scene of another rollover, which occurred shortly after 4 p.m. on Highway 34, one mile west of Snellman.
The driver, Julie Ann Crandall, 44, of Nevis, and passengers Betty Rose Dyck and Courtney Crandall were transported to the Park Rapids hospital for treatment, but no serious injuries were reported, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
A two-vehicle accident was reported around 3:30 p.m., just south of the Highway 59-Becker County Road 6 intersection, near the site of WE Fest.
State Patrol Lt. Dan Vickmark, who was the investigating officer, noted that it was a sideswipe-type accident.
The first vehicle, a Ford pickup driven by Ralph Marthaler of Detroit Lakes, was northbound on Highway 59, while the second, a Chevy Astro van driven by Kern Kuhlmann of Park Rapids, was southbound.
The pickup ended up in the southbound lane, but did not overturn; the van entered the west ditch and rolled over, according to Vickmark.
Kuhlmann was ejected from the vehicle, though his wife Bonnie remained inside. Both the Kuhlmanns were transported to St. Mary's Regional Health Center for treatment, while Marthaler received treatment at the scene, but did not require hospitalization.
"It was snowing very heavily at the time (of the accident)," Vickmark said. "There was about an inch of snow on the road, and visibility was down to about 30-40 feet."
The accident was still under investigation at press time.
Another rollover occurred at the intersection of Highway 10 and County Road 1 at about 3:45 p.m., but there were no injuries reported.
In all, the Minnesota State Patrol reported 23 vehicles in the ditch, five non-injury accidents and seven minor injury accidents occurred between 2 p.m. and 12 midnight.
Gordon said the conditions were particularly hazardous right at the beginning of the storm, when temperatures were just falling below freezing.
"There were two or three inches of heavy slush (on the road)," he said. "That creates extremely difficult driving conditions. It appears people were either overestimating their vehicles, or underestimating the weather."