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Ice a factor in two crashes, one fatal

SUNDAY, DEC. 6, 2009, 12:30 A.M.

Teenage girl was using cell phone, officials say

Icy road conditions in the Inland Northwest contributed to the first major weather-related accidents of the season Friday night, prompting officials to remind drivers to slow down during inclement weather.

On Friday night, a 16-year-old Nine Mile Falls girl was killed on a remote north Spokane County road when she lost control of her vehicle while talking on her cell phone, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office reported.

A few hours later, a 60-year-old woman and her passenger were injured when their vehicle slid into a concrete barrier at the Washington-Idaho border.

While no additional precipitation is forecast, any ice already on the road isn’t going to go away for the next week as already-low temperatures sink to single digits.

The high today is expected to hover around 19 degrees, with an overnight low of 6 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. On Monday, the high is forecast at 15 degrees with a low of 2 degrees overnight.

The teen killed just after 8 p.m. Friday had just received her driver’s license three weeks ago, said sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan. The girl was not identified.

Deputies say the girl’s 1995 Jeep Cherokee left the roadway in the 4500 block of West Monroe Road, rolled and struck a tree, leaving her pinned inside. Deputies reported it was snowing lightly, and the road was very icy.

The teen’s boyfriend told deputies he was talking to the girl on his cell phone when he heard what sounded like screeching tires and then a crash. The boy and the girl’s mother arrived on the scene as emergency crews were working to free her from the Jeep, Reagan said.

The second crash occurred about 11:30 p.m., after Donna M. Miner lost control of her 2003 Ford pickup, crashing into a concrete barrier on the old Spokane River Bridge. The crash sent about five feet of barrier and railing into the river, Reagan said.

Miner and her passenger were taken to a local hospital for minor injuries. Miner was later charged with negligent driving and failure to provide proof of insurance, Reagan said. The bridge’s surface was icy due to freezing fog or snow.

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