Driving conditions in western Montana have turned treacherous over the weekend, with warming temperatures and freezing rain turning highways into skating rinks, resulting in several serious accidents.

First responders, such as the Montana Highway Patrol, Missoula County Sheriff's Deputies, Missoula Police Officers, Frenchtown and Missoula Rural Fire personnel and even tow truck drivers are reaching out to the media to send one single message to drivers..SLOW DOWN, especially when approaching an accident scene.

Spokesman for Frenchtown Fire, Mel Holtz, said this weekend has been filled with slide-offs, rollovers and near-misses.

"We've gone on several rollover calls and we had a semi accident out by the Fish Creek area today, Holtz began. "The truck ended up jackknifing and going over an embankment. Today, it was very difficult to keep focused on the job at hand  because we had several near-misses happen, as cars passed by, even though we had adequate signage far enough away, but people just weren't slowing down and moving over."

Holtz said one such incident nearly ended in tragedy not long ago.

"We did have an accident some three weeks ago where when we came upon the scene a secondary accident occurred," he said. "A vehicle ended up taking out a Montana Highway Patrol cruiser. That was a little tricky because it was around a corner, but again, we put signs out, we put flares out and all the tools that we had to get people to slow down, and it's just not working."

photo by Mel Holtz
Frenchtown Fire

Holtz said first responders are in danger whenever they step out of their vehicles to render aid to accident victims.

"It's actually very scary out there when your attention is focused on providing care or helping someone in need and you hear brakes or cars coming by and your attention is immediately focused on running out of the way," he said. "And, it's not just the out of state drivers, there are lots of Montana license plates that are speeding by from cars and even semi trucks. We're just trying to get the word out that if you see an emergency scene with a tow truck or law enforcement and other first responders, please slow down and give us room to work."

KGVO News has attached a video provided by the Montana Highway Patrol that highlights the need to slow down when approaching an accident scene that has been views by thousands of drivers.

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