One dead as snowstorm impacts travel in Delaware

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A fatal accident was reported this morning as Kent County continued to get the brunt of the snowstorm.

Delaware State Police spokeswoman Master Cpl. Heather Pepper said that at approximately 6:48, a 55-year-old Felton man was driving a 2003 Jeep Cherokee eastbound on Firetower Road, just east of Berrytown Road, north of Felton.

The vehicle left the north edge of the road and entered a ditch. The Jeep traveled a short distance before the front center of the vehicle collided with a large tree.

The driver was not properly restrained and was pronounced dead at the scene. Identification is pending notification to next of kin. 

The roadway was closed for approximately three hours for the investigation to be completed. 

This collision remains under investigation by the Delaware State Police Troop 3 Collision Reconstruction Unit. Anyone with information regarding the crash is asked to contact Cpl/3 William Booth by calling 302-697-4454. 

On Monday morning, Delaware Department of Transportation spokesman C.R. McLeod noted that more than five inches of snow had fallen in some areas and that “Road conditions in Kent County are very poor and unnecessary travel is not advised.”

Mr. McLeod said western and central Sussex County are also seeing primarily snow-covered roads, and slushy roads in the Lewes/Rehoboth areas but south of Dewey Beach along the coast, roads are mainly wet.

“While roads south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal were beginning to see more covered roads. But north of Route 40, roads are mostly still wet,” he said.

“DelDOT will be focusing on keeping primary roads passable through the duration of the storm. Other roads, especially in Kent and western Sussex, are going to be snow covered and travel will be very difficult.”

According to state police, seven property damage accidents and four disabled vehicles were reported as of 9 a.m. There were no traffic hazards or road closures, spokeswoman Master Cpl. Heather Pepper said.

There was one personal injury accident in Kent County, DSP said, along with eight property damage accidents and six disabled vehicles. No road closures or traffic hazards were ongoing, Cpl. Pepper said.

In New Castle County, there had been two property damage accidents, and no personal injury accidents, disabled vehicles or traffic hazards. There were no road closures.

Milford police spokesman Sgt. Robert Masten said at least two electrical poles had been knocked down, including one by a tree.

“Roadways are in poor shape and we’re dealing with multiple vehicles sliding off roadways and a few crashes,” Sgt. Masten said.

At 2:30 p.m. Delaware Electric Cooperative reported that about 4,000 members across the service area were without power. There had been about 2,000 members without power at around 12:30 p.m., spokesman Jeremy Tucker said.

As 5 p.m. approached, Mr. Tucker said 3,000 members were without power, mainly from the Prime Hook area west to Laurel and Seaford.

Acccording to DEC, all available crews were working to remove trees from the lines and to replace equipment damaged by falling trees.

Challenges abounded, however, due to snow packed roadways that stymied DEC's efforts to reach problem areas.

Mr. Tucker said that "unfortunately, some members will not have power restored tonight or through part of (Tuesday)."

The spokesman added that "There was a bullseye of heavy snow on our territory."

According to Mr. Tucker earlier in the day, “Nearly all of the outages are being caused by trees falling onto power lines. Trees, weighed down by 6 to 10 inches of heavy, wet snow, are snapping all over the state.

“Unfortunately, as more snow falls and winds gust to 40 mph, we expect more members to lose power. While crews will work as fast as they can to restore power, travel is difficult right now on many roads.

“Outages may last hours or longer if we receive 12 to 18 inches of snow as predicted by the National Weather Service. This is certainly an all-hands-on-deck situation, every available crew is working to restore power.”

Chesapeake Utilities spokeswoman Briana Patterson said there had been no power outages as of just prior to 2:30 p.m.

Beebe Healthcare announced that the diagnostic testing scheduling testing phone line for the outpatient building in Lewes - 302-645-3278 - was offline due to a loss of power.

At just after noon, two crews at the Little Creek Volunteer Fire Company were ready to mobilize if needed,  Fire Chief Scott Bundek said. At one point, an ambulance responded to a cardiac arrest incident, and a company truck cleared the road with a plow to allow for travel.

While the truck cleared other roadways as well, Mr. Bundek said the possibility of accidents typically increase “when things lighten up and people begin moving again.”

There was minor flooding in some areas of Little Creek, but "nothing major but enough to be annoying."

In Dover, 18 members stood at the ready at the fire station. Fire Chief David Carey said the department was staffed with crews beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday and tentatively until 6 p.m. Tuesday, depending on the weather conditions.

The department responded to three non-snow-related calls in the morning, Chief Carey said. Members spent time rearranging equipment on some vehicles as they waited for more potential incidents (snow-related or otherwise), cleaned the building and planned to have training exercises in the afternoon.

Crews were staffing all three Rehoboth Beach  Volunteer Fire Company stations, and Capt. Kent Swarts said trucks were accompanying EMS vehicles on all calls.

The fire department had responded to an automobile accident, Capt. Swarts said at around 3:15 p.m.