102 crashes reported to Montana Highway Patrol over 16-hour period

102 crashes reported to Montana Highway Patrol over 16-hour period

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Over an icy 16 hours Wednesday, 102 car crashes were reported to the Montana Highway Patrol. That's more than 6 crashes per hour.

That time period, spanning 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. is compared to a total of 32 crashes reported two days earlier on Nov. 4 over the same time frame, according to Sgt. Andrew Knapp, the communications center manager for the Montana Highway Patrol. 

Knapp said he used Nov. 4 as a comparison since weather was less severe across the state that day in order to illustrate the uptick in incidents MHP saw during Wednesday's poor weather.

Overnight much of central Montana experienced freezing drizzle, resulting in slick roads including ice and black ice, according to the National Weather Service in Billings.

The crashes resulted in numerous injuries and resulted in the death of at least one person, 57-year-old, Robert Paul West of Dallas, Georgia, who was ejected from his SUV after he lost control on the ice-covered interstate in Sweet Grass County. 

Of the crashes Wednesday the most were reported in District 4, an MHP district including Billings, Laurel, Columbus, Big Timber, Red Lodge and Hardin. A total of 31 crashes were reported in District 4. Another 18 were reported in District 7, an area including Livingston and Bozeman. 

Wednesday's fatal crash in Sweet Grass County occurred at about 10:01 a.m. on I-90 west of Big Timber near mile marker 364. 

The rollover crash occurred after West lost control on the icy roadway and entered the center median, rolling once. West was not wearing a seat belt and he was ejected from his SUV during the crash, according to a press release by the Sweet Grass County Sheriff's Office. 

He sustained multiple blunt force injuries during the rollover ejection.

West was taken to Pioneer Medical Center via the Sweet Grass County Ambulance Service where he was treated for multiple injuries. West died while he was taken to a trauma center in Billings. The release states that road conditions were "extremely poor, with black ice covering much of the county." 


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