ITHACA, N.Y.—After a warm early morning of rain was met with a sudden drop into freezing temperatures on Tuesday morning, a sheet of ice covered the sidewalks and streets of Ithaca and the surrounding area.

“I could have ice skated on the sidewalk this morning,” Ithaca resident David West shared on social media yesterday.

In the best of cases, the slippery conditions slowed down drivers and forced pedestrians to tread carefully, maybe even crab-walk, as they searched out patches free of any icy sheen. But many morning routines were upended by unfortunate accidents—including a car flipping over on Giles Street near the bridge that spans over Six Mile Creek in the City of Ithaca.

A phone picture of a car that flipped over as a result of Tuesday morning’s icy conditions. The photo appeared in the local Facebook group: “Group by Mama’s Comfort Camp and Mother Up Road Conditions: Ithaca/Tompkins.”

It was the only incident involving a motor vehicle that Bangs Ambulance Company said it responded to on Tuesday amid 20 calls for an emergency response over the course of less than three hours, all before 10 am.  

To put those numbers in perspective, Bangs Ambulance’s Human Resources Manager Meghan Bangs said that in a normal eight-hour day shift, the ambulance company receives about 12 calls on average. “To have 20 calls just in a very short couple hour period, we’d never seen anything like that before.”

“Nobody expected it to be that severe that quickly, and we all would have probably just a little bit differently if we had known,” Bang’s said, but adding that she felt that the emergency responders rose to the occasion and had a strong response nonetheless.

The unusual weather event that caused the icy conditions, previously noted by The Ithaca Voice, proved to catch many by surprise. Including the car crash, Bangs Ambulance reported that 14 of the 20 calls it responded to on Tuesday morning were directly related to the icy conditions, which doesn’t account for the accidents and spills that didn’t demand a 911 response.

Bangs said that the majority of the injuries were from slips on driveways or sidewalks, and ranged from wrist and ankle fractures, to back and hip pain, as well as head trauma. One local shared on social media that in Ithaca on Tuesday morning, due to the ice, “My friend slipped and hit her head, my boss fell off his bike twice.”

Bangs Ambulance Paramedic Chris Katz said in a written statement that, “To have this many people injured in such a short period of time due to a sudden weather event is something we have not seen in the Ithaca area in a very long time, if ever.”

Jimmy Jordan

Jimmy Jordan is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn