Sheriff's cruiser hit as snow causes chaos on Northeast Wisconsin roads

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NORTHEAST WISCONSIN (WBAY) - The beat-up back end of a Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office squad car served as a reminder that it was messy on the roads Wednesday morning -- a busted wheel and dented metal caused by a driver going too fast for conditions.

A truck in the ditch near Kellnersville in Manitowoc County. Nov. 6, 2019. (WBAY Photo)

Snow that was supposed to fall overnight decided to wait a few hours and arrive just in time for the morning drive. It caused absolute chaos on roads in Northeast Wisconsin.

Brown County officials told First Alert Traffic that they had "accidents everywhere."

"Although the accumulation is not much, all roads are snow covered and slippery!! Please allow extra time in your travels as we are responding to a large number of crashes," read a post on the Brown County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.

A Fond du Lac County deputy was assisting the State Patrol at such a crash scene where a driver lost control. The squad car was parked on I-41 with emergency lights on, partially blocking a lane of traffic for protection. Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt said the driver who hit the squad car lost control of his vehicle while going too fast for conditions.

While hundreds of cars slowed down and moved over, Sheriff Waldschmidt said it took just one car to make what was already a mess even more of a mess.

"You don't know what you're going to come across when you come upon emergency lights, and that's why you need to be slowed down enough to be able to stop if you need to, be able to change lanes if you need to, and certainly we need you to drive slow enough that you're not going to lose control of your car as you're passing by us especially when the roads are icy and snow covered," the sheriff said.

The Wisconsin State Patrol is investigating the crash.

"There was plenty of visibility for drivers to see the emergency lights, plenty of room on the interstate to safely pass the scene, and plenty of time to slow down, yet a driver still lost control and crashed into the squad. Thankfully no one was injured," the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office posted on its Facebook page.

The future of Fond du Lac Sheriff's Office Squad 119 is uncertain. The sheriff said it's too soon to know if the squad car is totaled or can be repaired.

"We're thankful only metal was bent in this case, and the driver of the other car that struck the squad, he's OK as well, so it's good news. Metal is a lot easier to fix than people," the sheriff said.

This was the second Fond du Lac County cruiser hit at an emergency scene this year. Another close call involved a deputy narrowly escaping a car that was spinning out.

In Gresham, a car slid off the road and hit a power pole, causing an outage throughout the village. Gresham schools let students out at 9 a.m. due to the outage. The village has since restored power but anticipates another outage Wednesday afternoon while it replaces the pole.

A car hit a power pole Wednesday morning and knocked out power to Horace Mann Middle School, Hoover Elementary and Wilson Elementary in Neenah. WE Energies says power has been restored. In what's become a familiar mantra, the utility urged drivers to slow down.

Manitowoc Police say they responded to 26 crashes in a five-hour period.

The Calumet County Sheriff's Office says its deputies responded to more than 25 crashes and cars in ditches.

"These numbers do not even take into consideration the number of calls to our dispatch center of vehicle crashes in other jurisdictions as well as other calls for service that Deputies responded to. Please take the time to check your vehicle tires and related equipment and remember snow means slow," reads a post on the department's Facebook page.

In Grand Chute, our crew saw a car in the ditch on I-41 near the Northland Ave exit. This slide-off caused significant traffic backups.

Appleton Police asked people involved in no-injury crashes to communicate with other drivers at the scene and report it at the Appleton Police Department lobby. The city said crews were salting roads.

Fond du Lac Fire/Rescue responded to a rollover crash on I-41 SB at Military Road and a one-vehicle crash on I-41 NB at Highway 151.

"Use extreme caution traveling due to current weather conditions," says the fire department.

A Winter Weather Advisory has been posted until noon Wednesday for the counties of Brown; Calumet; Kewaunee; Outagamie; Manitowoc; Waupaca; Waushara and Winnebago. Two-to-four inches of snow is possible.

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