Despite Light Snowfall, Roads Prove Deadly

By Ann E. Marimow and Steven Ginsberg
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 6, 2005

More than five inches of snow fell in parts of the Washington area yesterday, making roads hazardous enough to cause the death of a 5-year-old boy on a sled, authorities said.

In many places the storm brought only an inch or two of snow, just enough for a taste of winter, but that appeared to be sufficient to send some students home early, cause nervous workers to call it a day before dark, and cancel evening concerts and scores of other events.

About 6 p.m. in the Charlotte Hall area of southern Charles County, a car hit an icy patch on Route 6, slid off the road and struck a sled carrying the boy, identified as Jeremy Colton Caleco, and two of his relatives, Maryland State Police said.

Christiana Grace Zell, 11, was critically injured, and her brother Joseph Anthony Zell, 10, was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, said Trooper 1st Class Jason Scott.

The children's sled was being pulled by an all-terrain vehicle driven by an adult on a grassy area off Route 6, Scott said. A preliminary investigation indicated that the driver of the automobile thought that the ATV was on the road. He apparently swerved to avoid a possible collision and then lost control on the slick pavement, Scott said.

Although light snow continued to fall after midnight and into this morning, the initial snowfall prediction of up to eight inches in spots was knocked down to two to four inches for the District and nearby suburbs. Three to six inches were forecast for Southern Maryland and for Virginia's Spotsylvania and Stafford counties.

The National Weather Service received a report just before midnight of 5 1/2 inches of snow in Hollywood in St. Mary's County. By 10 p.m., four inches had already accumulated in La Plata, three inches in Accokeek and Fredericksburg, and two inches in Manassas, Annapolis and Damascus.

By about 8:30 p.m., the first inch of snow of the season was reported at Reagan National Airport.

Most of the snow was expected to end between midnight and 4 a.m. today.

Officials in Stafford, Spotsylvania and Culpeper counties in Virginia said schools there will be closed today.

Transportation officials throughout the region said last night that they were continuing to spread salt on major roads. Even in the Fredericksburg area, where the heaviest snow was reported, "we pretty much have a handle on things," said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tina Bundy.

But highway department officials advised motorists to be cautious this morning and to be aware of possible slick spots, especially on less frequently traveled roads.

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