Highway Horror Stories

The record snow that fell on North Texas Christmas Eve is gone, but drivers will remember the havoc it created for a long time.

"It's the worst I've seen in over a decade," said Parker County resident Allen Pirtle.

Two routes, Highway 287 between Decatur and Wichita Falls and Interstate 20 from Parker County to Abilene, became parking lots after blizzard-like conditions made the roads impassable.

Dozens of accidents were reported, forcing troopers to shut down both roads. People were trapped in the cars, trucks and SUV's for hours until the conditions improved Christmas morning.

"Believe me, it was scary," said C.J. Sange, the owner of a gas station along I-20 west of Weatherford.

He became stranded on the interstate Thursday night on his way home.

"In the middle of it, not on the side," he said.

"It was a living nightmare," remembered Marty Andrew, a customer at Sange's store Thursday afternoon. "People were sliding all over the road. They couldn't move."

The storm also wreaked havoc on drivers in another parts of the state.

Volunteer firefighters and sheriff's deputies rescued hundreds of people stranded along Interstate 44 and Texas State Highway 287 near Wichita Falls. The area recorded up to 13 inches of snow, said Doug Speheger, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

"It's really been horrible," Wichita County Sheriff David Duke said. "Although we live in North Texas and get a lot of cold weather, we weren't prepared for the significant amount of snow that we've received."

Only two of the sheriff department's vehicles have four-wheel drive, so rescuers used their own pickups and the heavy 5-ton brush trucks normally used to fight fires to get to motorists, many of whom ran out of gas while they were stuck in traffic stalled by the storm.

"It was exciting at first to wake up and go, 'Oh, this will be great. We'll have a white Christmas,"' Wichita Falls Mayor Lanham Lyne said. "Then it kept snowing. As the roads became impassable, then we started to worry."

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