*Written by Trooper Jeff Sevigney
Washington State Patrol (WSP) troopers, assisted by employees of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), saved four people this morning after their vehicles became stuck in snow drifts on State Route 27 south of Latah, Washington. State Route 27 remains closed as crews work to clear the roadway.
At approximately 1:00 am, Trooper Greg Birkeland was dispatched to a one vehicle slide- off collision on State Route 27 near Latah. He was unable to locate the vehicle as he traveled south to Latah. Trooper Birkeland nearly became stuck himself and had to turn back at Latah.
Trooper Birkeland made contact with WSDOT Maintenance Techs Robert Bondurant and Russ Wagner, in a road grader and plow truck. The trooper and WSDOT units then attempted to make their way back to Spokane. As they worked their way back north, conditions continued to deteriorate. Just north of Latah, they came upon two vehicles that had become stuck in a snow drift. With the help of the grader and snow plow they were able to get the two drivers out of their vehicles and into Trooper Birkeland’s patrol vehicle.
The extreme conditions continued to intensify and Trooper Birkeland and the WSDOT units were forced to turn back south to Tekoa unable to continue north. At one point the grader and snow plow both became stuck but were able to get out.
Just after 5:30 am, Trooper Eugene Trevino was dispatched to another disabled vehicle on State Route 27 south of Fairfield. Trooper Trevino responded and located two vehicles that had become stuck in snow drifts. Trooper Trevino left his patrol car and walked some distance to both vehicles in near whiteout conditions. Both drivers left their vehicles and were transported by Trooper Trevino to Fairfield. WSDOT crews are now untilizing a large snow blower to open State Route 27.
These two incidents are a stark reminder of how quickly conditions can change especially on our rural two lane highways. Motorists are encouraged to plan ahead and check on road and weather conditions prior to driving on area highways. Drivers should also pay close attention to local media outlets for the latest road and weather conditions along with road closures.
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.050 requires motorists to comply with road closure signs. Drivers are reminded that these signs and closures are placed in affect to ensure the safety of everyone. Please pay close attention and adhere to closures.