STERLING – Freezing rain made for some tough sledding on the roads Friday.
With a winter storm on the way, it might get tougher this weekend.
At least one person was injured Friday morning when a Sterling Fire Department fire engine, traveling west on Lynn Boulevard, skidded on a patch of ice and hit at least one oncoming car in the process.
The engine, which was en route to an accident on Interstate 88, skidded out of control before striking the curb and rolling into a snow-covered corn field about a quarter-mile west of Avenue E.
The driver of the oncoming car, Nancy Surdez, 65, of Lyndon, was taken to CGH Medical Center for unknown injuries.
According to police, the driver of the fire engine, Garrett E. Ramos, 30, of Sterling, and a passenger, Cory Bianchi, 40, of Sterling, refused treatment at the scene.
Freezing rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning made for slippery driving conditions in the Sauk Valley. Classes in Polo, Eastland, West Carroll and Chadwick-Milledgeville schools were canceled. Dixon public schools started an hour late.
And at least one school bus had to call for help.
A bus from the Ashton-Franklin Center School District got stuck on an icy hill on Reynolds Road in the eastern part of Lee County. Its students were placed on another bus, said AFC School District Superintendent John Zick.
That situation, which led to a number of other cars getting stuck on the ice, was one of quite a few that Lee County sheriff's deputies responded to Friday.
But they weren't the only agency with a higher-than-usual number of accidents.
Sterling Police resonded to at least six crashes, including the one involving the fire engine.
For Dixon Police, that number was at 11 late Friday, with one person being taken to KSB Hospital with unknown injuries. Rock Falls reported handling at least four crashes Friday.
The Illinois State Police total was smaller – two accidents and five cars in ditches.
Whiteside County sheriff's deputies responded to six accidents and more than 10 cars in ditches.
Eastbound lanes on Interstate 88 near the U.S. Route 30 exit were closed for a time Friday morning after a tanker truck hauling hazardous materials overturned.
Driving in the Sauk Valley might not get any easier this weekend. The region is under a winter storm warning from this evening until 6 p.m. Sunday. Freezing rain and drizzle will give way to snow and wind tonight.
The National Weather Service is forecasting 5 to 9 inches of snow in the Sauk Valley, with winds gusting to 30 mph tonight and Sunday.
And at least one police department has declared a snow emergency in preparation.
Rock Falls Police ask that from 6 p.m. today until 6 p.m. Tuesday, drivers follow snow emergency parking restrictions and ordinances.