Risk takers venturing out onto Barrow County’s icy roads in their cars and trucks for no good reason are making it harder for Barrow County’s emergency agencies to do their jobs, according to Sheriff Jud Smith.
“We are pleading for people not to create an emergency for us,” the sheriff said. “We don’t mind being out there and we are answering the calls that come in, but if you are out driving for any reason other than a family emergency, and you cause damage to someone else’s property or a wreck, you are going to be held responsible.”
Most of the calls coming into the E-911 Center are for avoidable accidents, he said flatly.
“The last wreck we worked, the lady was going out to get beer for her mother,” Smith said. “I worked one today where the guy went off a 20-foot embankment off (highway) 316. He was going 45. He said he lost control and took down a highway sign and some guard rail. We’re responding to one now where a battalion chief pulled a vehicle out of a ditch.”
The sheriff said people mistakenly think they can brave the elements no matter how bad things get.
“I don’t care what type of driver you are, you are going to slide around and you are going to cause problems and risk the safety of the emergency personnel who have to come help you.”
He said people have been driving four-wheelers down the road with kayaks tied to them.
“That’s not safe," the sheriff said. "If they get seriously injured, the response times for ambulances and fire trucks are going to be very, very long.”
It also is possible that insurance companies could refuse to pay claims for accidents caused by drivers who don't heed public safety warnings about staying off unsafe roadways, he said.
A wintry mix of precipitation is still falling in Barrow County. The latest forecast is for another couple of inches of snow by Thursday morning.
From the Barrow Journal staff: Do you have some photos of your family's encounter with Winter Storm Pax? If you would like to share them, just email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Stay safe!