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Winter Weather Creates Tricky Conditions for Iowa Drivers

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STORY CITY, Iowa  --  As drivers travel farther north along I-35, abandoned cars--some damaged--tell the story of Friday’s winter blast.

“All across the state, state troopers covered 136 total accidents from yesterday morning early till about 7 a.m. this morning,” said Sgt. Nathan Ludwig of the Iowa State Patrol.

Two of those accidents turned fatal.

Angel Martinez, a 17-year-old from Ohio, died in a crash in Pottawattamie County. A 52-year-old West Burlington firefighter, James Lee Franciskovic, died in a crash in Mahaska County.  Two other firefighters were injured in the crash, as well. According to the accident reports, neither of the deceased were wearing seatbelts.

Just north of Story City, two heavy-duty tow trucks had to pull out a semi that had slid off an exit ramp and into a ditch.

Meanwhile, other truck drivers say Friday night drivers were either going too fast or too slow for conditions, and that Saturday’s roads were far better.

“The interstates look great, they did a really good job, they probably had a little bit of extra salt left over this year so besides being dirty, roads are great. Good conditions, so they did a great job,” said Chris Dougherty.

While fatalities are down from this time last year, police say lack of snow on the road this year has been a double-edged sword.

“It kind of goes both ways, because since we've had good weather people tend to drive a little bit faster, but then you also have those accidents in the winter time that people aren't used to driving, so it can kind of go both ways,” said Sgt. Ludwig.

Police warn the day after a storm can oftentimes be even more dangerous. Even if roads appear clear, officials say it is still important to be careful, especially on bridges, overpasses, and exit ramps.