Posted 1/04/12 (Wed)
By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer
Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011, dawned like any other normal day in McKenzie County. The morning was cloudy and icy with moisture in the air, but it seemed more like a lazy day than a dangerous one. The early morning hours proved, however, just how terrible the day would be.
Just after six a.m. near Arnegard, the day began with the head-on collision of two pickup trucks on U.S. Highway 85. The North Dakota Highway Patrol reports that the vehicles lost control, struck each other, and ended up in the south ditch off the highway. Though both parties were wearing seat belts, the crash proved fatal for Michael Burns of Mount Vernon, Ind. He was 57 years old. The tragedy of the morning, however, was only the beginning.
There were eight different accidents in McKenzie County on Dec. 29 with one fatality and six other injuries. All six injured motorists were taken to McKenzie County Hospital, four were treated there and two were transferred to other facilities.
The crashes spanned more than 14 hours, starting after six a.m. and finishing after eight p.m. Weather conditions ranged from rainy to overcast to foggy, as reported by the Highway Patrol.
Just before four p.m. a flatbed trailer hauling piping struck a tanker trailer five miles south of Watford City. Both vehicles were travelling northbound on Highway 85 and collided when the flatbed pulled into the southbound lane of traffic to attempt to pass the tanker which was negotiating a left-hand turn. The flatbed overturned, rotating 180 degrees and slid into the east ditch. Its driver sustained injuries and was taken to the hospital.
The day ended with an injury crash three miles west of Arnegard. A pickup truck crossed the center line and struck a tanker trailer, totalling the pickup truck and sending its driver to the hospital.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol, the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department, the McKenzie County Ambulance Service, and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department all aided in responding and investigating the various accidents.
With 2011 at a close and celebrations abounding to welcome in the new year, it is hard to see such a tragic day amidst the holiday spirit. It never seems to be enough to remind drivers to be cautious on our streets and highways, but with heavy hearts all we can hope is that one bad day will force us all to take account of actions on the road.