NNHS students, drivers brave icy roads in morning commute

Icy conditions Wednesday morning created a treacherous commute for Naperville North students and other Naperville residents.

According to Naperville Police Commander Louis Cammiso, the roads iced from freezing rain overnight. Between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. today, 81 accidents were reported to the Naperville Police Department.

“It came on so quickly that there wasn’t enough time to salt off the roads before the morning rush, and when you get a lot of cars, that’s when you have all these accidents,” Cammiso said.

Wednesday late arrivals at NNHS normally have 45 to 50 late calls. But this Wednesday numbers almost doubled to 85 late calls, according to NNHS Attendance Specialist Brenda Laird. This number does not include the amount of students unofficially late to school, as tardies were not counted for first period.

School buses were running at least 15 minutes late according to a tweet from Naperville District 203 this morning. NNHS senior Sophie Angele was 10 minutes late driving herself to school.

“Usually, I can get to school in ten minutes, but today it took me 40 minutes,” Angele said. “I wanted to drive faster because I was going to be late to school, but I saw all these accidents on the side of the road.”

Cammiso said one patrol car veered from the road and hit a tree, and another officer was struck by another car.

“I think driving conditions were hazardous for any drivers, even experienced drivers,” Cammiso said. “When you’re on a sheet of ice like that anything can happen…. I think it’s safe to say that the conditions were dangerous for adults as well as young drivers.”

According to District 203 Director of Communications Michelle Fregoso, when unsafe windchill temperatures or prohibitive snow is predicted, Superintendent Dan Bridges will discuss delays and cancellations with other District officials and local superintendents. However, Fregoso said the weather today was an anomaly that the district couldn’t predict.

“There was not information… as far I know that there was going to be this much trouble on the roads,” Fregoso said.

According to Fregoso, there was no in-depth discussion Wednesday morning about closing or delaying school.

“The conditions on the roads as far as I know were not great but not something that was going to keep school closed,” Fregoso said. “If a parent or student who drives thinks that it’s too dangerous for any reason, all they need to do is call the school and the absence is excused.”

Bad road conditions kept many people from their intended destinations. According to Edward-Elmhurst Health Public Information Officer Keith Hartenberger, the emergency room at Edward Hospital in Naperville was inundated with patients suffering from weather-related accident injuries. More emergency room workers were called in for extra shifts to help with the spike in patients.

The City of Naperville said in a press release that they cancelled trash pick-up Wednesday due to the dangerous road conditions. The black ice not only caused problems on Naperville roads, but it also affected surrounding areas as well. Commander Cammiso said portions of expressways including 294 and I-80 were shut down, resulting in an unexpected hassle for commuters.

With potentially dangerous weather, Cammiso urged drivers to be extra cautious in the winter.

“We would always encourage drivers in the wintertime to be aware of the possibility that there’s ice, black ice, whatever. So driving slower and more cautiously than otherwise I think is good advice,” Cammiso said.

Audrey Iocca, Maddie Krebs and Jayla Butler contributed to this article.