NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) – As various forms of winter precipitation overtook the state on Wednesday afternoon and night, 124 Arkansas National Guardsmen were called to state active duty to assist the Arkansas State Police in patrolling endless miles of hazardous roadway.
The Guard teams, employing 62 of their all-terrain Humvee vehicles, pre-staged at the state police troop headquarters across the state in preparation for the winter weather assault. By early evening as motorists trudged through sleet, freezing rain and snow on their homeward journey, the calls started pouring in to the state police as wrecks were occurring on nearly every major highway network.
Guard teams consisting of two Soldiers or Airmen per vehicle working 12-hour shifts, took to the roadways to assist state troopers in locating stranded motorists or accidents along the full length of Interstates 30, 40, 55, 530 and U.S. 67-167.
“The Guard teams have been excellent,” said Lieutenant John Carter of ASP Troop B in Newport. “They have helped stranded motorists, move key personnel around and helped us respond to situations we would not have been able to get to without the Guard. They even assisted an ambulance loaded with a patient to get moving again.”
Through the first 12-hour shift the Guard has patrolled over 1,400 miles of highway; worked 23 accidents and assisted 80 motorists.
Col. Damon Cluck, director of military support for the Arkansas National Guard, said the Arkansas State Police have been very appreciative for the support the Guard teams have provided throughout the past several weeks as the state has endured repeated bouts of winter weather.
“Right now it looks like our teams could remain on-station assisting the state police though Friday,” said Cluck. “Of course, we are prepared to continue operations as long as the civilian authorities feel they need the assistance.”
Where National Guard teams were called to action:
- Worked two accidents on I-30
- Worked six accidents or stranded motorists near Pine Bluff
- Worked five wrecks and assisted three motorists along I-40 near Forrest City
- Assisted with 10 accidents along U.S. 67 North near Newport and assisted 14 stranded motorists
- Assisted three stranded motorists along I-55 near West Memphis
- Assisted ASP with several accidents along U.S. 63 between Jonesboro and Trumann and assisted 18 motorists
- 189th Airmen working with Troop A has assisted 36 motorists in Central Ark area