Driver dies going the wrong way on I-35 near Cumming

DOT camera view near the Cumming exit as the accident clean up finishes.

A deadly crash in south-central Iowa this morning involved a driver going the wrong direction on Interstate 35.

Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Nate Ludwig says the crash between a car and semi happened in Warren County around 3:30 a.m. “The vehicle was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of I-35 near the Cumming exit,” Ludwig said. The driver of the car was killed. The semi driver was not injured.

“We don’t know why the driver was heading the wrong way on the interstate or where they got on the interstate at…it’s still under investigation,” Ludwig said. The crash forced the closure of I-35 southbound for several hours.

“I think they cleared the interstate at about 8 a.m. and opened it back up,” Ludwig said. The crash happened near the town of Cumming, which is located about nine miles south of the Des Moines metro area.


Carbon monoxide detectors will be required in some buildings July 1st

State Fire Marshal Dan Wood says the final rules have been drawn up as the state prepares to require carbon monoxide alarms be installed in apartment buildings and some homes.

Wood says the legislature passed the requirement in 2016 and asked his office to come up with the rules. Wood says they took the rules from the international fire and building code. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and the detectors let you know if the gas has built up before you become sick from it.

Carbon monoxide detectors  will be required in newly built homes, and buildings that have that have a fuel-fired heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage. He says single family rentals all the way up to large apartment buildings will be required to install the detectors. Wood isn’t sure how many of the buildings might already have carbon monoxide detectors installed.

“We don’t have a good grasp on that,” Wood says. “I can only assume that some would just through being newer. It hasn’t really been required but some have been putting them in for some time knowing that this was coming down, knowing that this was adopted in 2016 and knowing that it was going into effect in 2018. So some have got out in front of it.” Wood says the change requiring the carbon monoxide detectors begins July 1st.

“The city’s that have rental inspections will add this to their checklist of things that they already do,” according to Wood. ” There’s probably some that actually look at it.” You are not required to have a carbon monoxide detector in your existing home — but Wood encourages everyone to get one.

“If you own your own house we would suggest having one outside the room where your furnace or heater is. You just might get too many false alarms if it is just right next to it,” Wood says. “And then we recommend one on every floor.” Wood says there are not a lot of combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms available. He says having them is a small price to pay for the protection they provide.


Floodwaters in Jackson County force truck driver to swim to safety

Jackson County flooding.

A truck driver swam to safety after his vehicle was submerged in floodwaters this morning in Eastern Iowa.

It happened near Preston where heavy rains and ice jams on the Maquoketa river resulted in a flood-covered highway. The driver of a truck, owned by Ryder and leased by a postal carrier firm, tried to drive through the floodwaters but became stuck. The driver got out and was not injured.

A photo of the truck, partially-buried in the floodwaters, was posted to Facebook by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department with a reminder: “Please do not drive around the barricades.”


Odebolt woman dies in accident

A west-central Iowa woman died in an accident Monday in Ida County.

The Iowa State Patrol says 22-year-old Destiney Gritten of Odebolt was southbound on a county road east of Holstein around 5:30 p.m. when she failed to stop at Highway 20. Her car was struck by a Freightliner semi driven by 40-year-old Daniel Anderson of Firth, Idaho. Gritten was not wearing a seatbelt and died in the accident.

There was no report of injuries to the semi driver.


State Patrol stresses importance of slowing down in winter driving conditions

There have already been several multiple car-accidents on state roadways this winter and driving conditions are expected to be less than ideal in the next couple of days.

Iowa State Patrol spokesman Nathan Ludwig says the winter weather is just one factor in two of the big accidents on I-35 which involved 70 cars and then more than 90.

“I think it’s a combination of things — once you go a couple of weeks with not having any adverse weather and then you throw a couple inches of fast-moving snow at Iowa motorists, it tends to add to the accident things,” Ludwig. He says going too fast for the weather conditions is probably the biggest factor in most accidents.

“I talked to some motorists who were involved in the 92-car pileup up by Huxley on Saturday, and some of them did say they slowed down to 50, 55 miles-an-hour,” Ludwig says. “Slowing down in one thing, but the other thing is keeping a good following distance between you and the car ahead of you. And motorists just need to know that when you are on the interstate, things like this can happen.” Ludwig says you also need to expand your awareness in winter driving conditions.

“The biggest thing that people forget to do when they are on the interstate is they don’t look down the road — they look where they are at,” Ludwig explains. “So that’s what we are telling motorists, look up ahead, because if there is a crash we are going to ask you to slow down a little sooner.” Sergeant Ludwig says freezing rain adds another dimension to winter driving.

“It can be deceiving. So, if it looks icy we are asking you to slow way down because it’s going to take some time for you to get to a stop. You’re not going to have any control over your vehicle,” Ludwig says. He says if others are still passing you by as you slow down, keep your speed down, because you may see them in the ditch down the road.

“As soon as the accident happens, they want to hop out of their car and take a look at their vehicle,” Ludwig says. “But if you are in an accident — call 9-1-1 and stay in your vehicle — because it’s going to be safer than being outside of your car.” Also be aware that some spots are more prone to freezing than others.

He says watch out for bridges and overpasses, don’t use the cruise control. Also, keep a firm grip on the wheel and light foot on the gas pedal, and remember that four-wheel drive doesn’t matter on a sheet of ice. Ludwig says traveling 70 on dry pavement, requires an overall stopping distance of around 350 feet, while traveling 50 miles-an-hour on dry pavement, requires an overall stopping distance of around 198 feet. Those distances all increase when you are driving in wet, icy conditions.


Fires in Sioux City, Knoxville, Cedar Rapids leave three people dead

Three people died in three separate fires across the state this weekend.

Sioux City Police are investigating the death of a person whose body was found inside a burning car Sunday evening. The victim’s name has not been released.

A fire destroyed a house in Knoxville early Sunday. Seventy-year-old Charlene Selmyhr was outside the home when crews arrived, but she became unresponsive in a police car and died later at a hospital.

And in Cedar Rapids, 57-year-old Thomas Jones died Saturday when a fire broke out in his unit at the Shamrock Apartments. The causes of all three fires remain under investigation.


No major concerns in first state spring flood outlook

Ice breaking up on the Raccoon River in Des Moines.

Spring is still several weeks away, but the National Weather Service has released its first look at potential flooding.

Senior hydrologist Jeff Zogg says there appear to be few worries right now. “Most of the state — including the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers — we’re seeing a near-normal risk of flood across Iowa. Nothing really abnormal stands out,” Zogg says. There was very little snow on the ground until just recently, and he says that is one of the things they take into account.

“The snowpack is definitely a factor that we consider when we look at the risk of flooding in the spring. And the snowpack that we have, that definitely tended to increase the risk, because across much of the state the snowpack has been above normal,” Zogg explains. The flood risk is based on areas the normally might flood and does not include the possibility of flash flooding brought on by heavy rains.

Zogg says water levels in streams and lakes also make a difference in the outlook. “Stream levels going into the winter are definitely one thing that we take into account when we look at the risk of flooding,” according to Zogg. “Those were near normal, in some location a little bit below normal, so those tended to have a negligible impact, maybe even decrease the risk a little bit.” He says there are several other factors that could impact any flooding between now and spring.

“Future precipitation trends — if we get a lot of snow or a lot of rain for example — that would tend to increase the risk of flooding. So, we’ll just have to keep an eye on that,” Zogg says. The speed of the warm-up and snowmelt is also a factor, as a gradual melting gives the streams and lakes more time to absorb the runoff from the melting.


Garbage truck driver dies in accident near Council Bluffs

The driver of a sanitation truck was killed in a rollover crash in western Iowa on Thursday afternoon.

The Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office report 38-year old Jeremy Daniels, of Council Bluffs, died from injuries he suffered after being ejected from the truck as it rolled over while making a turn. The accident involving a 2007 Sterling sanitation truck owned by a Council Bluffs company occurred at around 1:10 p.m., when the vehicle was negotiating a curve, north of Council Bluffs.

The accident remains under investigation.

 (By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)