10 inches of snow cause hazardous roads, crashes and one deathGoodhue County’s first winter storm of the season dumped nearly 10 inches of snow in the region, causing slippery road conditions that resulted in several crashes and at least one death.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County’s first winter storm of the season dumped nearly 10 inches of snow in the region, causing slippery road conditions that resulted in several crashes and at least one death.
Justin J. Breza, 21, of Winona, Minn., was pronounced dead Saturday afternoon at the scene of a crash on Highway 61 near Wacouta Road. Breza had been a passenger in a 2006 Lincoln pickup driven by his father, James J. Breza, 53.
Their vehicle and a 2006 Toyota 4Runner, both southbound on Highway 61, were hit head on by a northbound semi-truck that lost control at about 12:30 p.m.
James Breza, passenger Sonja J. Breza, 53, and semi driver Roy Becker, 63, Blaine, Minn., were transported to Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing.
The driver of the 4Runner, Roger C. Claxton, 58, Hastings, and his passenger Constance C. Claxton, 72, Hastings, were also transported to Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing.
Justin J. Breza was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
The wintry conditions also caused several smaller crashes. Red Wing Police Department handled 14 snow-related crashes over the weekend.
“That’s a lot,” Police Capt. Darold Glander said.
Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office responded to eight crashes and 27 vehicles in the ditch over the course of the weekend. A snowplow also ended up in the ditch Monday morning near Wildwood Road and Highway 61.
The snow started late Saturday night and continued through much of Sunday. Lock & Dam No. 3 reported a total of 9.5 inches for the storm. The last time that much snow fell at once in Red Wing was Dec. 11, 2010, when 11 inches piled up.
To help combat the winter conditions in town, Red Wing Public Works first put plows on the road at 4 a.m. Sunday. A full crew of 17 city employees then worked most of the day to make sure main roads were open.
“They put in 10 hours that day,” Public Works Deputy Director Lynn Nardinger said.
An afternoon crew continued until about 7:30 p.m., Nardinger said. Side streets weren’t addressed until 2 a.m. Monday.
“We came in and plowed every street curb to curb,” Nardinger said.
As of Tuesday, Nardinger said city crews were still doing some minor cleanup in the downtown core and clearing areas where vehicles had previously been parked.
Despite the fact that city crews haven’t had to tackle a winter storm like this for just about two years, Nardinger said he was pleased with how it went.
“With the first snow of the year, and the amount that we got, there’s always challenges,” Nardinger said. “Overall, I think things went pretty well. I was happy with the job the crew did.”
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Council member Peggy Rehder thanked public works staffers for their work clearing the roads.
“I think people that live in Minneapolis and St. Paul would have every reason to be pretty jealous of the way our streets are taken care of,” she said. “We’re just very fortunate that we have that kind of service.”