Kaiserslautern crashes blamed on snow, slippery roads
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Heavy snow and slippery roads over the weekend caused hundreds of traffic accidents in the Rhineland-Palatinate area of Germany, injuring at least 18 people, German police reported.
There were 323 traffic accidents just in the Kaiserslautern and Ludwigshafen areas, according to police reports. The accidents resulted in more than $1 million in damage.
In the Kaiserslautern area, home to a U.S. military population of about 55,000 Americans, there were 93 accidents between Friday and Sunday causing about $275,000 in damage, according to Christiane Lautenschlager, a spokeswoman for the Westpfalz police headquarters.
In less than four hours, there were 26 accidents in the city and surrounding area, she added. The 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron, which patrols U.S. military bases in the Kaiserslautern area, reported 13 accidents Thursday and Friday, said Erin Zagursky, a spokeswoman at Ramstein Air Base.
Tech. Sgt. Ryan Wilt, a pavements and heavy equipment craftsman at the base, said 40 airmen worked 12-hour shifts to clear base streets and plow the runway to keep air traffic coming and going. He estimated that crews had spread 60 tons of salt on base roads.
“We pretty much had every piece of equipment out to get the runway done,” he said.
Crews continued pushing, plowing and blowing snow on the runway to remove all of the snow from the ramps. Industrial blowers filled dump trucks with snow to be taken away from the runway, ramps and taxiways. Wilt said it should take about two days to completely remove the snow.
More than 10 inches of snow fell in the Kaiserslautern area. Much of it fell in a few hours on Friday afternoon, forcing many commands to send some people home from work early and shutting down many base services.
However, even at the peak of the snowstorm, planes continued to fly in and out of Ramstein Air Base. They suspended operations for only one hour on Friday, so crews could get out and clear the runway.