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Spring storm causes treacherous travel conditions: Local man aids accident victim

Last weekend’s winter storm brought with it large amounts of snow and high winds, creating a treacherous mix across the southeast quarter of the state.

The significant blowing and drifting snow started Friday night and continued throughout the day Saturday; a reported 13 inches of snow fell in Tea. Lennox and Worthing seemed to fare much better than that but still endured snow and winds throughout the weekend. Roads were ice covered and winds created drifting and limited visibility at times.

Officials closed I-90 from Sioux Falls to the Minnesota border on Saturday, April 14. It was reopened again Sunday morning.

The Lincoln County Highway Department advised that they had pulled all snow plows off the highways Saturday morning around 10:30 a.m. due to deteriorating conditions and very poor visibility. They planned to resume plowing at 6 a.m. Sunday. Travel was not advised.

But for some, they still wanted to make it home and were already on the roads.

In one case, it worked out. Jim Larson, of Lennox was on his way home from Sioux Falls Saturday morning shortly before 11 a.m. He was traveling I-29 south of the Tea Exit when he saw a vehicle overturned in the ditch northbound on the east side.

He said, “As I looked closer there was a man crawling out, so I called 911, and turned around to assist in helping him. He was somewhat distraught and informed me that his wife was in the vehicle with her seatbelt on, upside down.”

Larson waded through the water to help get her out.

“The only choice was to cut the seatbelt,” he said, “Finally got her out and put both of them in my vehicle. He was a bloody mess and said he was drowning in the water until he could free himself.”

Authorities responding to the rollover accident on I-29 near mile marker 73 were the South Dakota Highway Patrol, Lincoln County Deputies, Paramedics Plus, Tea Fire and Rescue, and SD Department of Transportation.

Larson also reported that a truck driver who stopped provided a blanket to the couple.

He added, “I’m glad it was not a tragedy. Prayers to the couple involved.”

Tea Fire and Rescue reported that was their only call of the day on Saturday.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office responded to four crashes on April 14th and into the early morning hours of April 15th.

Lennox Police Department reported no accident calls due to the weather but did have to do a temporary repair on the stop sign on Highway 17 and Boynton Ave. that blew down due to the high winds Friday night.

At right: The rollover accident on I-29 near MM73 on April 14.

Visibility is poor and snow is going to be drifting on the roadway.

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