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Ice causes havoc on roads

A tow-truck driver pulled a stranded sport utility vehicle out of the ditch Saturday afternoon along County Road 82 near Lakes Latoka and Cowdry after the SUV's driver lost control on the ice-covered roadway. Slick and slippery conditions sent dozens of vehicles in to the ditch over the weekend, and crunched cars in at least 14 accidents.

Old Man Winter wreaked havoc on area roads this past weekend, sending more than a couple dozen vehicles slipping and sliding, and into the ditch.

Brad Shafer of A & A Towing in Alexandria said the slick, slippery roads - the worst he's seen so far this winter - kept area tow-truck drivers busy all weekend long.

"It was bang, bang, bang," Shafer said. "The State Patrol was telling us to pull [cars] as fast as we could get them out. We had five [drivers] going, and we couldn't keep up."

According to the Alexandria Police Department, there were at least 30 vehicles that ended up in the ditch, most going in on Saturday.

Two of the more serious crashes - one on Friday and one on Saturday - sent a half-dozen people to the hospital.

The first crash took place Friday, December 26 shortly after 6 p.m. on County Road 22 east of West Lake Louise.

According to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, here's what happened:

A 2008 Chevrolet Impala, driven by Karen Root, 45, of Alexandria, was traveling westbound on County Road 22. Root lost control on the slippery roadway and crossed into the eastbound lane of traffic.

Her car crashed into a 2008 Kia Optima, driven by Gary Lee, 53, of Oceanside, California. He was traveling eastbound on County Road 22, according to the report.

Lee's vehicle ended up in the south ditch, while Root's vehicle stayed on the roadway.

Another vehicle, a 1999 Dodge Ram truck, driven by Randy Otto, 25, of Clitherall, was traveling eastbound on County Road 22 and crashed into Root's Impala, which ended up in the north ditch.

Both Lee and Root were transported by North Ambulance to Douglas County Hospital. Lee was discharged on December 28 and as of Monday morning, Root was listed in satisfactory condition.

Everyone involved in the crash was wearing seat belts, according to the sheriff's office.

Responding to the scene were the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, North Ambulance, Garfield First Responders and Garfield Fire Department.

The crash is under investigation.

The second crash took place Saturday, December 27 shortly after 3 p.m. on County Road 82 about a quarter-mile west of County Road 45.

According to the Alexandria Police Department, here's what happened:

A westbound vehicle lost control on the icy roadway and crashed into an eastbound vehicle.

The drivers of the vehicles were Ashley Nelson, 23, of Alexandria and Luke Strawn, 30, of Columbia Heights.

There were two passengers in Strawn's vehicle, Jessica Navratil, 30, of Columbia Heights and Kaitlyn Gunderson, 11.

All four people involved were transported to Douglas County Hospital. Gunderson was later transferred to St. Cloud Hospital, but as of Monday morning, she had been transferred to North Memorial Hospital in the Twin Cities.

The other three people involved in the crash were treated and released the day of the crash.

Responding to the accident were the Alexandria Police Department, North Ambulance and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

The crash is under investigation by the Alexandria Police Department.

Echo Press reporter Mike Enright contributed to this story.

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