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Overnight storm buries Allen County with record snowfall

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 9:21 am

Some Allen County residents got up early Wednesday morning to head onto snow-clogged side streets, only to find themselves stuck in drifts. An overnight storm brought a record snowfall and police were busy with emergency calls, including a fatal snowmobile crash this morning in Whitley County.

In Fort Wayne, city street crews have been plowing since 5 p.m. Tuesday, and they'll likely continue through tonight to clear secondary and residential streets.

Parker's Towing kept busy Wednesday morning as drivers of even SUVs found slogging through the thick overnight snow too much for their vehicles, according to police scanner traffic.

As of 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service reported 9 inches of snow at Fort Wayne International Airport – setting a record for the day – on top of 1 inch that was already on the ground. At Huntertown, 7 inches fell by 9 p.m. Monday, with 2 inches having fallen in the previous hour.

National Serv-All has suspended all trash and recycling collections for Wednesday. All collections for the rest of the week will be performed one day later than usual: Wednesday work on Thursday, Thursday work on Friday, and Friday work on Saturday. The Macbeth Road Landfill will remain open.

Many area school systems announced 2-hour delay Tuesday night, while Fort Wayne Community Schools waited until 6 a.m. today to decide to cancel school today. A Facebook posting Tuesday night about FWCS' decision to wait until today to check on road conditions before deciding on whether to delay or close brought nearly 70 angry responses within 7 minutes. The posting was removed within an hour.

City spokesman Frank Suarez said Wednesday morning that street crews concentrated on main arteries until around 2 a.m., when the heavy snow ended. Since that time, plows have moved into secondary streets, and other crews are salting intersections, Suarez said.

He said that all crews at work on city streets are regular city employees, although many have were held over or called in early. No private contractors have been hired by the city to remove snow, he said.

A death and injuries in storm

Indiana conservation officers are investigating a fatal snowmobile accident that occurred in Whitley County this morning. At around 1:45 a.m. the Whitley Co Sheriff's Department dispatch received a 911 call informing them of a snowmobile accident in a field in the area of the 2000 block of West County Road 200 N, according to a news release from the Department of Natural Resources.

Two snowmobiles were traveling westbound on County Road 200 N. just west of County Road 150 W when one of the operators, 21-year-old Justin Hinen of Columbia City, intentionally left the road, according to the release. He continued heading west across an open field along the north side of the road. After traveling a few hundred yards across the open field, the snowmobile struck a multi-stranded wire fence enclosing a livestock pasture. The driver of the other snowmobile still traveling on the road saw the accident and immediately called 911.

When emergency personnel arrived on scene, the operator of the snowmobile involved in the accident was unconscious and unresponsive. CPR was immediately initiated but all life-saving attempts were unsuccessful and Justin Hinen was pronounced deceased at the scene. The cause of death appears to be blunt force trauma to the neck but an autopsy will be conducted later today to determine the exact cause of death.

The accident remains under investigation by Indiana conservation officers and the Whitley County coroner's office. Assisting at the scene of the accident was the Whitley County Sheriff's Department, Columbia City Police Department, Thorncreek Township Volunteer Fire Department, and Whitley County EMS.

A Fort Wayne man fell through ice on Jimmerson Lake in a snowmobile accident Tuesday night. Matthew Wagoner, 46, drove his snowmobile into open water on the Steuben County lake, according to a news release from the DNR. He was pulled out by fellow riders and taken to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne by Steuben County EMS. He was treated for mild hypothermia and released.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department reported that between 2 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, its officers assisted by the Indiana State Police with 20 accidents and slide-offs due to the weather conditions. Two people were injured in the accidents.

Included was a vehicle headed southbound on Interstate 69 that ended up down an embankment. The Marion woman who was driving it complained of back pain and disorientation.