Storm hits Walworth County hard
ELKHORN Walworth County authorities reported at least six traffic injury accidents caused by Friday’s snow storm, including a school bus rollover incident in which one student sustained a minor injury.
Walworth County Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Hall reported that the office investigated six injury accidents, 10 property damage accidents, one hit-and-run incident and 42 reports of vehicle runoffs, wires down, trees down and cars in the ditch.
“That’s all since 1:40 this afternoon,” Hall said Friday shortly before 8 p.m. “Things are tapering off, but the next problem will be limbs, complete trees and wires down because of the heavy snow.”
As Hall was reporting to The Gazette on the county conditions, a report came in of a tree down on a house in Delavan Township. He ended his report when he was dispatched to another injury accident.
By 8 p.m. Friday when the snowfall ended, most primary roads in Walworth County were in good winter driving condition.
“I can see pavement on Highway 11, but most of the town roads are still in poor winter driving condition,” he said. “The plows have not been on some of the town roads yet.”
Road conditions in Rock County were not as treacherous compared to Walworth County, officials said. Unofficially, about three inches of snow were reported in downtown Janesville.
“We have had no injury accidents and about 15 reports of runoffs,” said a spokeswoman at the Rock County communications center. “We have had only two reports of wires down, and there was no damage reported other than the lines in those incidents.”
Snow emergencies remain in effect in Janesville and Beloit. Cars must be off city streets in Janesville until the snow is plowed to the curb on both sides of the street. In Beloit, the snow emergency is in effect until 9 this morning and all vehicles must be off the street until then.
The Janesville forecast suggests there are flurries possible today and Sunday.
The school bus rollover accident in Walworth County occurred shortly before 3 p.m. on Beloit Road near Prairie View Road in Walworth Township. Hall reported that the bus was traveling west on Beloit Road, veered into the eastbound lane and rolled over into the ditch.
Five students from Walworth Big Foot High School were on the bus. The Walworth EMT squad transported the injured student to a local hospital. The driver, Melissa Haney, 43, of Sharon, and the four uninjured students were taken back to the high school.
A Milton school bus shut down Friday afternoon after getting stuck. The incident angered one parent who contacted The Gazette about her daughter’s safety.
“I think Dr. (Michael) Garrow made a terrible decision when he chose not to let school out early,” said Joy Myers of Milton. “As a result, the bus my daughter was on got stuck and she only got home at a reasonable time because her friend’s father picked them up and brought them home.”
Garrow, the superintendent of the Milton School District, was in Wisconsin Rapids on Friday attending the state gymnastics meet where a Milton gymnast was competing.
“I was in contact with my second-in-command during the day as well as our transportation provider,” Garrow said. “We all agreed that we could keep school open and get all our students home safe and sound, and that’s what we did.”
Students in the bus that became stuck in deep, wet snow were transported home in another bus sent by the district’s bus provider, Riteway Bus Company, Garrow said.
“All our students arrived home safe and sound,” he said. “There’s always second-guessing when we have this kind of weather. I understand there were delays, but overall, I think things went well.”
Myers said her daughter’s friend used a cell phone to call her father.
“My daughter’s friend’s father then picked both girls up,” she said. “Those girls would have been waiting for assistance well after 5 p.m. had they not had a ride. I think it’s poor judgment to not close school early and see a situation where students were on that bus for that length of time.”