Winter Storm Lucian: Governor Orders National Guard to Rescue Stranded Motorists

Ron Brackett
Published: February 8, 2019

After days of travel headaches caused by Winter Storm Lucian, officials began to reopen interstates on Friday.

No Travel advisories remained in effect early Friday in the Upper Midwest because of blowing snow on roadways. Dozens of spinouts and crashes were being reported.

State roads reopened in Minnesota on Friday, but officials said county and township roads may not be passable.

Interstate 94 in North Dakota was reopened from Jamestown to Fargo. It was reopened from the North Dakota border to Fergus Falls in Minnesota.

Also, Interstate 29 was reopened from Grand Forks to Fargo. I-29 remained closed from Fargo to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Thursday night, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz mobilized the National Guard to rescue stranded drivers in Renville County, the Star-Tribune reported.

The Renville County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post, "Two rescue missions were completed during the night, with 8 people being brought safely back to the armory in Olivia where they joined another 10 stranded motorists who had been brought there."

The Minnesota State Patrol said it responded to 232 crashes, 271 vehicle spinouts and six jackknifed tractor-trailers that from 9:30 p.m. Thursday to 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Also on Thursday evening, the North Dakota DOT pulled its snow plows off the roads in eastern portions of the state as conditions became too dangerous for drivers to safely work, according to the Associated Press.

(MORE: A Complete Recap of Winter Storm Lucian

The winter storm, which has been blamed in the deaths of at least four people, shut down highways from Arizona to North Dakota. Hundreds of schools were closed for the day.

In Michigan, almost 170,000 Michigan homes and businesses were without electricity as of 11 a.m. Friday, according to PowerOutage.us.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department in Iowa said a person had to be hospitalized Thursday after a car and a tractor-trailer collided in that city. Several other accidents in the state were reported on social media. The Iowa State Patrol tweeted a photo of a dump truck that had run off the road in the eastern part of the state. A journalist with the Des Moines Register shared a photo of an overturned SUV.

Authorities said the storm was responsible for the deaths of at least four people.

The AP Press confirmed two of the deaths occurred along Interstate 70 in Lafayette County, Missouri, Tuesday night when a vehicle skidded and collided with a tractor-trailer. The Missouri Highway Patrol identified the victims as Wendy Rios, of Altamont, Illinois, and Kaleb Huddlestun, of Effingham, Illinois.

The third confirmed death occurred Tuesday in Miami County, Kansas, when Dennis Gentry skidded on an icy bridge and flipped his pickup truck along U.S. 169, the AP also said. Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Candice Breshears confirmed Gentry's death to the AP.

Dana Michelle Thowe, 51, was killed about 3:30 a.m. Thursday when her car crashed into a snow plow on Interstate 70 in Topeka, KSNT reported. The driver of the plow was not injured.


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