One Dead In Five-Vehicle Collision

BONNER COUNTY — A 35-year-old Sandpoint woman died early Tuesday morning in a five-vehicle collision on Highway 95 in Bonner County.

Idaho State Police blame the accident on black ice. They say the woman – Joni Zantow – was travelling southbound on 95 shortly after 6 a.m. when she hit a patch of ice and swerved into the northbound lanes.

Once in the oncoming lanes, Zantow crashed into a white Ford Explorer, causing that vehicle to ricochet into the ditch. The victim’s vehicle was disabled in the roadway when it then got rear-ended by a third vehicle, with the force of that collision forcing Zantow’s car into yet another vehicle.

Three of the vehicles had to be towed, while two were able to be driven off scene. No other injuries were reported in the crash, which ISP credits largely to the fact that those people were all wearing their seatbelts.

Idaho State Police, Bonner County Sheriff, Sagle Fire Department, Timberlake Fire Department and Bonner County Emergency Medical Services all worked on assisting people involved in the collision and clearing the roadway.

The highway was closed for a stretch Tuesday morning, but one lane was reopened prior to 8 a.m., with a pilot car leading drivers alternately in each direction through the crash site. A several mile backup formed for several hours Tuesday morning as a result of the collision.

Numerous other accidents and slideoffs were reported elsewhere in North Idaho Tuesday morning, especially on Highway 95, Highway 53 and I-90. There were scattered icy patches on these roads that appear to have taken drivers by surprise.

I-90 near Post Falls proved especially perilous for drivers, where traffic was backed up significantly during the Tuesday morning commute. ISP reported that icy patches on the interstate coupled with drivers travelling too fast for the conditions caused a handful of motorists to lose control of their vehicles.

The first accident there took place at about 6 a.m. when a car slid off the roadway. A rollover on westbound I-90 in that area occured a short time later, followed by an SUV losing control and crashing through the jersey barrier, where it was dangling over the road for more than an hour after the accident occurred.

ISP and other responding agencies set up road flares between Stateline and Post Falls Tuesday morning and traffic was reduced to one lane on eastbound I-90, causing traffic to be backed up for a couple miles in the eastbound direction.

Additional collisions, rollovers and slideoffs were reported elsewhere on Highway 95 and Highway 53. The most severe of these appeared to be a one vehicle rollover at milepost 12 on Highway 53 near Rathdrum, where two people were reportedly trapped inside but were said to be conscious and able to respond to emergency personnel and were eventually recovered relatively safely.