Police say, ‘go slow for snow’

By Kyla Gardner

Samantha Korineck, 15, sits in the passenger seat of a parked Ford pickup five miles out of town. The car is running, the heat on. She’s wrapped in a cream-colored horse blanket – the kind you’d place under a saddle. She’ll be treated for her concussion, her asthma, and the glass pieces in her forehead when the ambulance arrives, but right now, the pain in her dislocated shoulder is what she needs relieved most.

I’m so lucky to be alive, she thinks.

Through the windshield, Korineck can see her mom talking to her high school friend Brian, who pulled the two women out of the shattered rear window of their ’86 Toyota pickup.

Korineck blacked out when the truck started to slide on ice on Route 26. She can only remember the first tilt and last flip; Brian told her the car spun three times and then rolled six. Samantha and her mom had been traveling from Polo to Dixon for a doctor’s appointment, heading south. By the time the car landed, it was facing north, 10 feet from the highway.

The ambulance arrives, silently, and pulls in front of the truck Korineck is sitting in. As it tries to brake, she watches it hit a patch of ice and slide forward a bit. When a state trooper arrives minutes later, his patrol car slides forward on the same patch of ice.

First Snow, First Accidents

DeKalb Police Lt. Carl Leoni said most weather-related accidents within the city limits aren’t of the caliber of Korineck’s. Most are minor: rear-end collisions or cars sliding into a curb or parked car.

In the first 24 hours of the winter storm that blew through the City of DeKalb Jan. 12, there were 11 accidents related to snow and slippery roads, Leoni said.

In a 12-hour period that day, DeKalb County saw six accidents and helped 25 cars stuck in ditches, said DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott.

Scott said drivers can face different weather hazards once they leave the city limits. State highways and country roads not only have higher speed limits, but the openness allows for stronger winds and snow drifts.

More accidents occur during the first snowfall of a season or after a dry period, Leoni said.

“If there’s a long period without snowfall it seems people forget how to drive in that type of weather,” he said.

Testing the Roads

Korineck’s smashed-up pickup was repaired, and she learned how to drive it to help overcome her fears after the accident.

Leoni recommends inexperienced drivers practice handling their vehicle in winter conditions like Samantha did. Drivers should see how their cars react to ice and snow in an open, safe area where they can’t hit anything.

Drivers should also periodically test road traction by applying their brakes slightly, said Scott.

Leoni said the main thing people need to remember is to give themselves more room to stop.

Maggie Carrigan, an ‘11 alumna, hit a pedestrian on Lincoln Highway in December 2008 when she couldn’t stop her Volkswagon Beetle from rolling forward out of a declining driveway.

“From that point on, I am so careful: paying more attention, looking not only for other cars but also for people,” she said.

The pedestrian, who rolled up onto Carrigan’s windshield, suffered a broken arm and received a jaywalking ticket.

“I was so scared,” Carrigan said. “I saw her as she was right in front of the car. I couldn’t swerve or anything, and she kind of froze.”


After a snowfall, Leoni said drivers should make sure they have good visibility through their windshields.

“A lot of people clean out little portholes they look through, and it’s not only not safe, it’s not legal,” Leoni said.

When leaving the city, drivers should make sure they have a full tank of gas, blankets and a fully charged cell phone in case they get stranded on country roads, Scott said.

If someone gets stranded or stuck in a ditch, they shouldn’t leave the car because visibility can be poor and he or she could get lost or disoriented, Scott said. Drivers should call for help and wait for a patrol car or plow to come by and see them.

Slowing for Snow

Leoni said many accidents occur as drivers turn from well-salted main streets into private parking lots or side streets that haven’t been plowed or salted yet.

“[Drivers] need to remember it can be slippery anywhere,” Leoni said.

Scott and Leoni agree drivers should reduce speeds no matter whether they’re driving in a town or on country roads.

“Slowing speed is important so they can see changing conditions,” Scott said. “Then if they are in a collision, it’s a low-speed rather than a high-speed collision.”

Nearly 11 years after Korineck and her mother rolled and whirled their way off Route 26, her mother refuses to drive during winter months.

Korineck, an economics major at NIU, still braves the streets. She doesn’t need Leoni or Scott to remind her to drive cautiously this time of year.

“Every time it starts snowing, I think of that accident again,” she said.