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Westminster woman killed in weather-related crash on Md. 97

After unexpectedly early Tuesday snowfall caused accidents on Carroll County roads, including a fatality on Md. 97, and with the forecast predicting snowfall into Wednesday afternoon, public safety officials are urging people to use caution and avoid driving if possible.

“If you don’t have to go out, don’t,” said Doug Brown, Carroll County emergency management coordinator. “If we can keep traffic off the roadways then our folks can keep the roads clear, keep chemicals on them and do the things they need to do to keep them open for emergency responders.”

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The county had plow trucks clearing 83 snow routes Tuesday afternoon, he said.

As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, state and local officials believed previous forecasts for Wednesday snowfall would remain accurate, Brown said, in a Tuesday interview.

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“We are still right around that 6 to 12 or 6 to 14 inches for the county, depending on where you look, with more for the northern portions,” he said.

What officials were not expecting was snow to hit Carroll County as early as it did Tuesday morning.

The first day of spring Tuesday began with a series of winter storms that are expected to continue through Wednesday evening. National Weather Service meteorologist Isha Renta said she expects 8 to 12 inches of snow in most of Carroll County by 8 p.m. Wednesday.

“I think with the original forecast we thought it was going to be rain,” said Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Walter Dayton. “But it started out pretty much immediately as snow. That kind of threw everybody off guard.”

Police agencies were inundated with calls for car accidents between 10 a.m. and noon, according to Maryland State Police Sgt. Jon McGee, for a total of seven accidents significant enough to merit a written report, most of which were minor.

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There was one that was not, however.

Kaitlyn Taylor McDaniel, 20, was killed Tuesday morning when her 2001 Jeep Wrangler crossed the center line on Md. 97 and struck another vehicle near Eldersburg.

A preliminary Maryland State Police investigation determined that at around 11:05 a.m., McDaniel was traveling north on Md. 97, just south of Bartholow Road, when she lost control of the Jeep and crossed the center line due to the icy and slick conditions, police said.

At the same time, a 2014 Toyota Highlander being driven by Lisa Vilar, of Woodbine, was traveling south on Md. 97. When McDaniel’s Jeep crossed the center line, it struck the Toyota. McDaniel died as a result of the collision, according to police.

The investigation is being conducted by MSP’s local barrack reconstructionist. Anyone with information about the collision should contact Trooper Rafter at 410-386-3000.

While other accidents Tuesday were minor, McGee said, the work of police, and road conditions, were made more difficult by the number of vehicles on the road.

“Too many people still driving on the roads is what we are dealing with,” he said. “Stay off the road if you don’t if you don’t have to go out. Just stay at home.”

Those that can stay home Wednesday should prepare as they would for any other storm, Brown said, keeping phones charged, and having a plan in case they lose power.

And, Brown said, take a moment to check on others.

“If you know you have an elderly neighbor, someone who needs a little help, give it to them. Check on them, make sure they’re OK,” he said.

“That’s something we do very well here in Carroll County, we have great relationships. and when I say we, that means all of the citizens who live here, it keeps out community strong.”

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