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Icy roads trigger car accidents

Icy road conditions were a factor in two personal-injury accidents in the Wednesday night.

Two Bagley residents were injured in a single-vehicle rollover accident which occurred at 8:24 p.m. on U.S. Highway 2 east of Shevlin when the 1989 Ford Ranger they were in went into the ditch and rolled. Tina Cloud, 46, of Bagley, was driving the pickup on icy roads with strong crosswinds, according to the State Patrol report. Both Cloud and a passenger, Robert Stevens, 53, of Bagley, needed to be extricated from the vehicle. Stevens was airlifted to MeritCare Hospital in Fargo and was listed in guarded condition Thursday. Neither Cloud nor Stevens was wearing a seat belt. The vehicle was totaled.

Also, at 9:20 p.m. Lee Ann Hemp, 55, of Bemidji suffered cuts to her hand and head when the vehicle she was driving on State Highway 89 slid on the ice, went into the ditch and rolled, according to the State Patrol report. Hemp, who was wearing a seat belt, was treated and released at North Country Regional Hospital. The vehicle, which was not identified by the State Patrol, sustained severe damage.

Drive carefully

Wednesday's ice-covered roads may have been the first of the season, but they certainly won't be the last

Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp offers the following tips for safe winter driving:

Slow down and back off. People need to be reminded to be considerate of the driving conditions - and how quickly they can change in northern Minnesota, Hodapp said. Many accidents happen because drivers are following too closely to another vehicle. When the first car spins out, the second vehicle won't have enough time to stop and avoid colliding with the first, he explained.

Have a winter survival kit. Easily accessibly inside the vehicle should be a winter survival kit with a heat source (such as candles, with matches), food, water, a blanket, warm clothes such as hat, gloves or mittens and socks, Hodapp said. In case you do get stranded, the winter survival kit will allow you to keep warm and stay safe until help arrives.

Don't rely on a cell phone. Some people have become so reliant on cellular communication that they do not plan for the worst-case scenario, Hodapp said. But, "We still have areas up here were cell-phone coverage is spotty or nonexistent," he said. Plan ahead and compile a winter survival kit, he said.

Don't leave the vehicle. If you do get stranded, do not leave the vehicle in an attempt to find help or get to shelter, Hodapp said. You could get lost. "Your best bet is to stay in the car," he said.

Trust the news sources. When the TV, radio or other news sources tells you that the State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies are recommending no driving, don't drive, Hodapp said. Risking the drive in bad conditions just isn't worth to get to Grandma's house, he said. Additionally, trust the weather announcement. The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office always gets calls from people double-checking the information they heard on the radio; it's unnecessary, Hodapp said. If bad weather prompted a no driving alert from law enforcement, it's real.