Ice on the U.S. Highway 12 bridge over the St. Joseph River caused several accidents Thursday morning in Niles. One accident resulted in serious injuries to a Buchanan mother and daughter. Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

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Mother, daughter in serious condition

Published 10:41am Friday, December 30, 2011

A Buchanan mother and daughter remain in serious condition today after they were involved in a two-vehicle accident on an icy stretch of U.S. Highway 12 in Niles Thursday morning.

Michigan State Police Niles Post Trooper Jeffery Oudman said Tina Abbott, 41, and Samantha Abbott, 16, were being treated for severe injuries in the intensive care unit this morning. Both were transported to Memorial Hospital in South Bend Thursday after the accident.

The Abbotts were traveling east on U.S. 12 over the St. Joseph River bridge at about 7:50 a.m. when driver Tina Abbott lost control of her 1996 Chevrolet Lumina. The Chevy crossed the center lane and into the path of a westbound Dodge truck driven by Gary Norris of Niles. The front of the truck hit the passenger side of the car near Bond Street.

Norris sustained minor injuries to the hand.

Oudman said Tina Abbott lost control of the vehicle because the St. Joseph River bridge was covered in a sheet of ice at that time. He said at least four other minor accidents occurred during about a 15-minute time span in that same area.

“It was one of those times where the temperature was hovering around freezing and we had some rain,” Oudman said. “It wasn’t cold enough for roads to get icy, but it was cold enough for icy to form on bridges and overpasses. We were slipping and sliding ourselves out there.”

Oudman urged drivers to be careful when driving this winter.

“Slow down and be extra cautious when it is starting to rain and sleet, especially at this time of year when it is cold I the morning,” he said. “Dawn and dusk is usually the time when we have most accidents.”

In addition to being extra careful while driving, the Michigan State Police are encouraging motorists to prepare their vehicle for inclement weather. Vehicle preparedness tips include:

• Keep tires at the car manufacturer’s recommended pressure and routinely check tire pressure during cold weather.

• Make sure the windshield solvent reservoir is full and keep new wiper blades on front and rear wipers, if so equipped.

• Wash your car for better visibility to other drivers, and remove ice and snow from all lights, windows and the license plate before driving.

• Periodically check all lights and replace when necessary.

• Prepare a winter driving survival kit with items such as an extra winter coat, pants, hat, boots and gloves; blanket; nonperishable food; flashlight with batteries; dry container of matches; jumper cables; tow strap; first aid kit; shovel; salt or kitty litter; road flares; and a spare tire and jack.

• If you become stranded in a winter storm, do not leave your vehicle. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help.

• Keep vehicle fuel tank near full to prevent fuel line from freezing.

For more information of winter safety, visit the Michigan State Police’s winter travel advisory website at michigan.gov/roadconditions.

The public can also receive road condition information by calling the travel hotline at (800) 381-8477.

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