Slip slidin' away

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A pick-up truck involved in a head-on collision with a semi-truck Friday on Highway 41 north of Twin Lakes waits to be cleared from the scene after the driver of the vehicle was taken to the hospital.

The first snow of the winter is wreaking havoc on local highways due to record temperatures.

Wet roads, combined with freezing temperatures, were a factor in several accidents from Spirit Lake to Plummer on Friday and late Thursday.

Friday's high of 29 surpassed the day's previous lowest high mark of 32 in 1945.

This weekend will also present challenging roads as today's high is expected to be in the upper 20s and more snow is expected Sunday night into Monday morning.

"It's going to continue to be slippery out there," said climatologist Cliff Harris.

Harris said the last time that a day's high was below freezing was on Jan. 20.

Between 2 and 5 inches of snow, depending on the location, fell on Kootenai County late Thursday and Friday.

It's a dramatic turnaround from the 62-degree day on Election Day on Tuesday.

Kootenai County dispatchers handled 18 property-damage accidents, including four with injuries, from 8 p.m. Thursday to mid-afternoon on Friday. There were also 14 slideoffs reported.

"This is very typical because some of the motoring public is still driving for dry conditions," said Kootenai County Sheriff's Office Lt. Stu Miller. "The freezing temperatures, visibility, speed and following distances all factor into the collisions. People just need to remember to slow down and increase their following distances."

Two accidents resulting in serious injuries occurred on Highway 41.

The first collision injured three people on the snow-covered highway Thursday night.

According to Idaho State Police, Colton Kemmer, 17, Rathdrum, was northbound on Highway 41 near milepost 10 at 8 p.m. when he lost control of the 1995 Honda Civic he was driving and swerved west.

Carrie Aragon, 50, Post Falls, was southbound when the 2010 Toyota Prius she was driving struck the Civic on the passenger side.

Kemmer, Aragon and Ryan Potts, Spokane, a passenger in the Civic, were transported to Kootenai Medical Center.

Potts was in critical condition Friday morning. Kemmer and Aragon were treated and released.

On Friday morning near Seasons Road between Twin Lakes and Spirit Lake, a pickup and a semi collided.

Richard Kiser, 77, of Spirit Lake, was northbound on State Highway 41 when he lost control of his Dodge Ram Quad Cab. He travelled into the southbound lane where he was struck by a Peterbilt driven by Cecil Evey, 57, of Post Falls. Both vehicles drove off the road and stuck several trees. Kiser was taken to Kootenai Medical Center. Evey was not injured. Both drivers were wearing seat belts.

Multiple vehicles were also involved in a crash near Plummer on Friday morning. Details on those accidents were unavailable late Friday.

"We're running from crash to crash," said Idaho State Police Lt. Chris Schenck.

Accidents were more common on major highways than on city streets.

Coeur d'Alene Police responded to eight accidents, including five on or near Interstate 90, from Thursday at 6 p.m. to Friday at 4 p.m.

Post Falls Police responded to three accidents from Thursday night to early Friday afternoon, including a two-vehicle injury collision near Super 1 Foods. Rathdrum Police hadn't responded to any accidents as of the early afternoon.

A Kootenai County Sheriff deputy blocks southbound traffic on Highway 41 as the scene of a head-on collision is investigated and cleared Friday north of Twin Lakes.


A trooper with the Idaho State Patrol takes a photograph of an SUV that spun out of control and ended up on the guard rail near mile post 11 on Interstate 90 in Coeur d'Alene. Dozens of accidents were attributed to Friday's wintery conditions.

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