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Taking the road less traveled: Central SD drivers on secondary routes get stuck in snow

Vehicles across South Dakota remained parked earlier this week after a late-winter storm led to counties advising people not to travel. And until roads are cleared, some cars that people decided to drive anyway won't be going anywhere, either. Jo...

A car is almost completely hidden in snow Friday morning after the driver tried to get around the Interstate 90 closure in Lyman County. (Photo courtesy of Steve Manger)
A car is almost completely hidden in snow Friday morning after the driver tried to get around the Interstate 90 closure in Lyman County. (Photo courtesy of Steve Manger)

Vehicles across South Dakota remained parked earlier this week after a late-winter storm led to counties advising people not to travel.

And until roads are cleared, some cars that people decided to drive anyway won't be going anywhere, either.

Jones County Sheriff Rich Sylva told The Daily Republic on Friday that since the storm, he's seen three vehicles get stuck after their drivers decided to take secondary roads while Interstate 90 was closed from Wall to Chamberlain.

Sylva said that two vehicles that got stuck in the snow on S.D. Highway 248 can't be moved until a tow truck is able to get to them. And with no melting taking place, that could be awhile.

"They were seeking to skirt the interstate closure," Sylva said. "I just drove through a cut where the snowdrifts are taller than my vehicle. I don't know what makes people think they can get through that."

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Lyman County Sheriff Steve Manger said his office has seen similar incidents in which drivers ignored road-closing signage.

On Wednesday night, a driver in Lyman County had to be retrieved from the snow, as did the trooper who got stuck while trying to rescue him initially. The sheriff's office was able to get to a car in the snow and rescue its driver before snowdrifts closed off the road it was on entirely, but as of Friday morning, the car was almost completely covered.

"These last couple storms, it's been a common occurrence," Manger said.

As of noon on Friday, the South Dakota Department of Transportation had deemed the majority of roads in the north-central part of the state to still be blocked or impassable. Sylva said that while roads in Jones County aren't officially marked as being closed, common sense should tell people driving on them is risky.

While the storm has caused problems for the counties near the Missouri River, the fact that the area got much more snow than rain means that those problems are decidedly different from the flooding issues seen farther east, for the time being.

Following the storm, Manger said he's concerned about the potential for flooding in the area of the White River, where there is currently a significant amount of ice.

Sylva said that the people getting stuck are not those who live in the area and that most he's seen the last few days have been from Rapid City. While he hasn't arrested anyone, he said that those involved could potentially be billed for the costs incurred from a rescue.

"We're a small county of not a lot of people. They kind of know how things work, so a situation like this, they're pretty well aware they're not getting anywhere," Sylva said. "They don't need to be told not to drive on roads they can't get through. And if some emergency does crop up, we'll do what we can to help them out, up to and including getting resources that we can get from the state and county level to help them out."

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