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Slick roads lead to accidents, delays

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Treacherous driving conditions brought on by icy roads led to vehicle accidents as well as late starts for city offices and canceled classes at area schools Monday.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque issued a winter weather advisory Monday for Chaves County and other counties in eastern New Mexico.

“Winter weather advisories are in effect through the afternoon (Monday) and for an Arctic airmass continuing its grip on eastern New Mexico … producing freezing drizzle/fog and intermittent light snow,” according to a hazardous weather outlook produced Monday morning. The outlook warned ice accumulation could lead to hazardous driving conditions.

Law enforcement agencies responded to multiple accidents Sunday evening and throughout Monday morning.

New Mexico State Police handled or assisted the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office in responding to seven accidents on Highway 285 between 8 p.m. Sunday and 9:22 a.m. Monday, according to New Mexico State Police Officer Ray Wilson.

Treacherous driving conditions led to the closure of Highway 285 from Roswell south to Artesia, and from Roswell north to Vaughn, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Both stretches of 285 were reopened by late Monday afternoon.

Todd Wildermuth, public information officer for the Roswell Police Department and the city of Roswell said Monday that crews began salting the roads Sunday afternoon and evening. They then braved the streets again starting at 4 a.m. Monday and continued salting throughout the morning.

In all, the Roswell Fire Department responded to at least 11 rollover accidents, mostly on highways outside the city limits, as well as non-rollover accidents, Wildermuth said.

“Most of the highway rollovers did not result in life-threatening injuries, but a few did result in what could be deemed serious injuries,” Wildermuth said.

No further details were provided about the injuries.

Between 5:15 a.m. and 11:09 a.m. Monday, RPD officers responded to nine accidents within city limits, Wildermuth said.

He said, however, that it remains unclear how many of the accidents were caused directly by the weather conditions, and not by other factors.

The accidents included two at Southeast Main Street and Brasher Road — and another four took place at places throughout the city between 7:35 and 7:41 a.m.

Beyond vehicle accidents, the slick roads also wreaked havoc on people’s schedules.

Wildermuth said one American Airlines flight at the Roswell International Airport was canceled early Monday morning due to the weather.

Both runways, however, were reopened by noon.

Pecos Trails Transit was forced by the weather to delay the start of morning bus routes, according to a post on the Roswell city government Facebook page.

Many city employees were allowed to report for work at 10 a.m., two hours later than usual, according to a city press release sent out to local media.

City officials also postponed the monthly testing of emergency sirens in Roswell, Dexter and Hagerman, rescheduling them for next Monday.

For some, the dangerous roads meant a day off from school or work.

All Chaves County government offices were closed for the day, according to Susan Goldstrum, human resources director for the county, who came to work anyway Monday.

Classes were canceled for the day in the Roswell Independent School District as well as at schools in Lake Arthur and Dexter.

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell announced that classes were canceled Monday and the campus would be closed for the day due to weather conditions.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.