A teenager died near Salado on Friday and several others were injured as icy roads caused more than 65 accidents in Bell County.

At least 33 crashes were reported in Killeen, including a rollover, between midnight and noon Friday, seven in Harker Heights and more than 25 in rural Bell County.

The Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed the death of 16-year-old Vanessa Sanchez in an accident on Interstate 35 near Salado.

She was one of nine passengers, ranging in age from 2 to 17, riding in a Chevrolet Suburban that struck a patch of ice Friday morning. Sanchez was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle, which rolled over onto her, DPS spokesman Harpin Myers said.

In Killeen, the W.S. Young Drive bridge between Veterans Memorial Boulevard and Rancier Avenue was closed due to icing.

Some Central Texas school districts canceled classes. Florence Independent School District schools were closed Friday, and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Central Texas College and Belton Independent School District closed their campuses around midday.

City and county offices in Belton and Temple also closed at noon.

The Copperas Cove Police Department reported no weather-related accidents Friday.

In Bell County, three trucks were involved in three separate accidents at the same time on the elevated northbound exit ramp from I-35 to Salado near mile marker 279 Friday. All of the accidents were minor but caused a mess, said Jodi Wheatley, a Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman. A second accident happened on southbound I-35 across from the fatal crash.

“The accidents are all happening at the same places. It’s like one section of road is clear but then you hit a solid wall of ice,” said Shane Berrier, fire chief with Salado Volunteer Fire Department, at 12:30 p.m. Friday after clearing the last group of accidents in the area.

He said Salado responded to three other accidents. Two people were transported with minor injuries.

The new exit ramp from Farm-to-Market 2268 to Main Street in Salado was closed until mid-afternoon Friday because of icing, Wheatley said.

“People were driving 70 to 80 mph on westbound U.S. 190 in this weather. There were vehicles going off the road all over the place. I had my lights on and people were still driving like that. It’s crazy,” Myers said.

Cpl. Christopher Wilcox of the Temple Police Department said officers responded to 29 calls about traffic or transportation accidents from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Belton police reported accidents near Simmons Road and G. Wilson Road on the overpasses on U.S. 190, one at the merger of U.S. 190 and I-35 and another at U.S. 190 and Loop 121.

The National Weather Service confirmed Friday that a new record of sub-freezing days was set.

A total of 54 days of 32 degrees and below surpassed the 1910 record of 51 days, and winter isn’t over yet, said Jamie Gudnestad, National Weather Service meteorologist.

Today’s forecast calls for patchy fog before 9 a.m., and then mostly sunny with a high near 67 and a low near 42.

Herald staff writer Sarah Rafique and Deborah McKeon with FME News Service contributed to this report.

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

(1) comment


190 and loop 121 the red mustang got what he deserved. you dont speed and weave in and out of traffic when the roads are iced over....genius almost hit me. fact is all these accidents are the result of poor driving skills by impatient savants....these are the same geniuses who ride your rear on the highway and put the lives of my children in danger. if you savants want to ride along in convoys bumper to bumper you get what you deserve when the first car brakes. so many of you drive like a donkey and you get what you deserve...the middle finger and worse.[beam]

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