Freezing Rain, Snow In Oklahoma Blamed For 3 Deaths

Thursday, January 20th 2011, 4:44 pm
By: News 9

Staff and Wire Reports

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A winter storm brought freezing rain and snow to Oklahoma on Thursday and was blamed for at least three traffic deaths and several injuries.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported that Jackie W. Bean, 70, died after his pickup truck went off an icy U.S. 70 in southern Oklahoma and rolled, throwing Bean out of the vehicle about 8:20 a.m.

Less than an hour earlier, Jerry Gagnon, 47, of Overbrook died when the sport utility vehicle he was driving skidded off U.S. 77 near Ardmore and overturned.

Michael Todd Buffham, 37, also was killed about 3:15 a.m. when the tractor-trailer rig he was driving went off U.S. 283 and overturned near Cheyenne in western Oklahoma.

Numerous minor accidents were reported in Oklahoma City, in addition to people falling on icy sidewalks, causing head injuries, hip fractures and broken bones, but no life-threatening injuries, according Emergency Medical Services Authority spokeswoman Lara O'Leary. More than a dozen people had to be transported to a hospital, with many falling on sidewalks or in parking lots.

"All things considered, paramedics have had a manageable time," O'Leary said. "The only problem that we've encountered is paramedics trying to navigate down streets, going through stoplights with their emergency lights on, but motorists are afraid to yield to us, apparently because they're afraid of running off the road."

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation reported slick and hazardous spots remained in northeastern Oklahoma. Roads were much improved since Thursday morning in central Oklahoma, but officials warned drivers to remain alert for "black ice" conditions, especially on bridges and overpasses, as temperatures drop overnight.

Temperatures remained below freezing throughout most the day Thursday, although skies became partly sunny by early afternoon.

The National Weather Service said skies are expected to remain sunny Friday and Saturday with temperatures rising above freezing on Friday and into the 40s on Saturday.

List of school closings | Sign up for free weather text alerts