The Highway Patrol says this past weekend was likely the bloodiest in a decade. At least 17 people were killed in wrecks on Iowa’s highways and interstates since Friday, according to Trooper’s spokesman Sergeant Robert Hansen. Most of the state’s highways and interstates are snow and ice-covered this morning and travel is not recommended on I-35 South as it’s 100-percent ice-covered. Sergeant Hansen says many of the weekend wrecks were caused by people who were simply driving too fast for the poor conditions.While the signs along the interstates say 40 miles an hour is the minimum speed, Hansen says that only applies during good weather conditions. He says it’s recommended people go much slower in weather like this.Two people were killed and a state trooper was badly hurt in a wreck on I-80 Sunday near West Branch in eastern Iowa. Hansen says Trooper Jeff Benson had stopped to help a married couple from Illinois and their little girl after their van went into a ditch. A semi-truck came along, lost control and overturned, crushing the patrol car and the van. The father was thrown free, while the trooper, mother and daughter were caught in the wreckage. The mother and daughter died. Benson is listed in guarded condition this morning at University Hospitals in Iowa City.Governor Tom Vilsack this morning urged Iowans to slow down on the icy roads. During his weekly news conference in Des Moines, Vilsack offered his condolences to those who were affected by this weekend’s accidents. Vilsack says he phone the family of Trooper Benson to extend his thoughts and prayers to his family. Vilsack says it’s a difficult time and “we suffered significantly over this weekend.”On a road-related issue, Vilsack again today expressed his opposition to the idea of raising the speed limit on Iowa’s Interstates. Vilsack said raising the limit to 70 would raise Iowans’ insurance rates, and put more people in danger of accidents because of the higher speed.
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