Traffic fatality reported in midst of Ohio storm

DAN SEWELL Associated Press Published:

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Ohio drivers on Thursday picked their way around slick spots left by a winter storm that brought double-digit snowfall to some areas and was blamed for one death.

Jessica Galley, of Mason, was killed Wednesday afternoon when she lost control of her car on southbound Interstate 71 near Cincinnati, drove across the median and crashed into a northbound Ohio Department of Transportation snow plow, the Hamilton County sheriff's office said. The snow plow driver wasn't injured.

Southbound I-75 just north of Cincinnati was closed more than 12 hours after a tractor-trailer crashed Wednesday night in a construction area. Thursday morning traffic was diverted east via connectors to I-71 until I-75 was cleared. There were temporary lane closures on other interstates during Wednesday's storm, but traffic on most major highways was running smoothly across the state Thursday morning.

"We obviously have had multiple crashes around the state (Wednesday)," said Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston. "There were crashes that resulted in temporary road closures throughout the state. Things have improved today."

Department of Transportation snow plow crews were still working on roads where blowing and drifting snow accumulated, and also clearing Wednesday's piles from shoulders and medians.

The biggest problems Thursday were slushy buildups and wind-whipped snow covering side roads. In Darke County, in western Ohio, the snow emergency level was lowered Thursday from the highest level 3, but authorities urged drivers to use caution. The sheriff's office had approved emergency traffic only during the storm after numerous cars slid off roads and got stuck in drifts.

Some of the state's heaviest snowfalls were in western counties and in the northeast near Lake Erie that got 8 to 10 inches.

In Bellefontaine, which reported a foot of snow in some areas, Pat Leslie was enjoying being retired after helping run a truck stop for years, saying: "I stayed inside and looked out the window at the snow."

There were also scores of grounded flights Wednesday in Ohio airports, and airport sites showed scattered cancellations and delays continued Thursday. The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Ky., had a handful of Thursday morning cancellations and delays, but spokeswoman Molly Flanagan said operations were returning to normal.

The storm system was linked to 12 deaths, tornadoes in the Gulf Coast region, a record snowfall in Arkansas and disruptions in holiday week travel was pushing through the Northeast U.S. on Thursday.

Forecasters expected many Ohioans to see some more, but lighter, snowfall in scattered showers this weekend.

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