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Slides force Idaho 55 closure, injure motorist

A number of snow and debris slides closed Idaho 55 for three hours Friday morning (Jan. 30) – the opening weekend of the popular McCall Winter Carnival. Falling logs and debris struck one vehicle, sending its driver to the hospital via life flight.

The slides occurred just north of Banks at around 9:15 a.m. when a fierce storm front blew through Round Valley and up the Payette River Canyon to Donnelly, creating whiteout conditions. At the Gold Fork Canal Bridge repair project, two miles south of Donnelly, flaggers were literally being blown off the road according to District 3, Region 4 Engineer Scott Gurnsey.

“With warming temperatures, and if we get more rain in the canyon, we may have future slides,” said Gurnsey. “Some will be basically mud or mud slides; some will be saturated snow or snow slides; and some will be a combination of both with some trees and brush which we call debris slides.”

ITD maintenance crews had the road reopened by noon; the Boise County Sheriff’s department assisted with traffic control. The injured man, 64-year-old Kenneth George Pattan of Cascade, was driving with his wife on Idaho 55. He was transported to Boise’s Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. His wife was not injured.

Transportation department personnel continue to monitor the corridor because of heavy, wet snow accumulations that threaten to slide onto the highway from steep hills. Motorists have been advised to watch for debris on the road, especially at night.


Kenneth George Pattan was injured when his car, above, was hit by falling debris on Idaho 55. The snow/debris slide forced closure of the highway for about three hours. The hills along the highway (right) have been sliding because of heavy, wet snow accumulations. (Photos compliments of District 3)