by F.T. Norton

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December 8, 2004
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Trucks tossed around in Washoe wind


WASHOE VALLEY - A Sparks man was seriously injured in one of six accidents in which tractor trailers were overturned by 75 mph winds that raced through here Wednesday morning.

Dwain Darr, 43, a driver for Crown Beverage of Sparks, was northbound on Old Highway 395 two miles south of Bowers Mansion when the second trailer on a southbound Matheson Fast Freight truck driven by William Richard Watson Jr. of Reno was pushed into the northbound lanes by the wind.

Darr's vehicle slammed into the empty trailer about 11 a.m., ripping it apart and leaving him seriously injured, said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen. Darr underwent emergency surgery Wednesday afternoon.

Another truck that had stopped for the accident was tipped over by the wind.

Two miles south, a Swift truck was knocked over into a ditch near the intersection of East Lake Boulevard and Old Highway 395. That driver was extricated from the cab and taken to the hospital. Allen said his name and condition were not available.

He said the other accidents at Washoe Valley, three on Old Highway 395 and on Highway 395 did not result in injuries. Because of the high winds, the vehicles will not be removed until 6 this morning.

Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott McGruder said reader boards at the north and south entrances to Washoe Valley warn truck and camper drivers of high winds.

Sensors on the signs allow them to automatically warn drivers when winds reach 15 mph with 30 mph gusts. A sign prohibiting trucks and campers is posted when winds reach 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.

Both old and new Highway 395 were closed to traffic for about 10 hours. Traffic was rerouted through the valley on East Lake Boulevard.

Alexcis Raj, training director of Horizon Commercial Truck School in Sparks, said students are taught the difference between trucks with a cargo and empty ones like the Matheson rig.

"An empty truck is a whole lot easier to blow over. When it's airborne, it's airborne," he said.

During the school's five-week course its 200 student's are especially instructed on driving in wind.

But, Raj said, his best safety tip is common sense.

"If you've got a highway advisory, pull over and wait. There's no freight in the world that's worth delivering and losing your life over," he said.

According to the National Weather Service, a strong Pacific storm was responsible for the strong winds. Today's weather is expected to be partly cloudy with a southwest wind of 12 mph and a high temperature of 51 degrees.

Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.

WIND WARNINGS

• Nevada Department of Transportation reader boards at the north and south entrances to Washoe Valley warn truck and camper drivers of high winds.

• Sensors on the signs allow them to automatically warn drivers when winds reach 15 mph with 30 mph gusts.

• A sign prohibiting trucks and campers is posted when winds reach 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.

ON THE NET

Nevada Department of Transportation Web site:

www.nevadadot.com/traveler/roads" target="_blank">class="NormalParagraphStyle">www.nevadadot.com/traveler/roads/

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877 NV ROADS

1-877-687-6237



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The Nevada Appeal Updated Dec 8, 2004 11:27PM Published Dec 8, 2004 12:00AM Copyright 2004 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.