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Icy Conditions Cause Serious Problems For Mass. Commuters

A driver is on the phone calling for assistance after a car accident due to the icy road conditions Wednesday morning on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A driver is on the phone calling for assistance after a car accident due to the icy road conditions Wednesday morning on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
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Tuesday's mix of rain, sleet and snow kept roadways wet before freezing overnight, causing major issues on roadways across Massachusetts Wednesday morning.

Commuters were warned that whether they were driving, walking or taking public transportation to take it slow, as both the roads and sidewalks were slick.

In Needham, a 63-year-old man was struck and killed while trying to help his son who was stuck on ice on Brookline Street. The Needham Police Department has identified the man as Joseph Flynn.

While Flynn was helping his son, a vehicle, which police report appeared to be sliding and unable to stop, pinned him against the other vehicle. There are currently no charges, according to Needham police.

At around 8:30 a.m., Gov. Charlie Baker announced a two-hour delay for all non-emergency state employees to allow crews to treat "dangerously icy roads" and respond to roadway crashes.

A major crash on Route 128 in Wakefield involving 55 vehicles significantly delayed traffic along the roadway, State Police said. About 30 vehicles were towed and there were "several injuries," but none were believed to be serious.

Accidents and lane or road closures were also reported on I-93 near Route 495 and on the Mass. Pike in Millbury.

Parts of Storrow Drive, Memorial Drive and the Mass. Ave. Bridge were also closed for periods of time Wednesday morning. Cambridge police reported that as of 10 a.m. there were 22 crashes in the city.

Some drivers on less heavily trafficked areas than highways also slid along roadways.

MBTA officials warned passengers about slippery stations early Wednesday and told them to expect delays on buses. The agency also reported delays on the Green and Silver lines during the morning commute.

WBUR's Martha Bebinger told our Newscast Unit that as she drove near Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, she saw many pedestrians fall on icy sidewalks.

"So in addition to all the traffic accidents, the sidewalks are really treacherous," she said. "I've seen many people walk down their front stairs and slide across their sidewalk into the street."

A cyclist walks his bike as he struggles to maneuver on the icy sidewalk of Memorial Drive in Cambridge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A cyclist walks his bike as he struggles to maneuver on the icy sidewalk of Memorial Drive in Cambridge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Area hospitals said they were treating dozens of people with injuries related to falling on ice.

"They're falling on the icy stairs, falling off the bus, falling on the street, on the curb. Everywhere," Dr. Mike Vanrooyen, head of emergency medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told our Newscast Unit. "We have all of a sudden a big onslaught of falls."

The icy morning will be followed by a warmer than average day, with highs expected to reach the 50s in Boston.

But the short reprieve from wintry conditions won't last long. WBUR meteorologist David Epstein says we'll see 8 to 14 inches of snow fall Thursday.

Anticipated snowfall for Thursday's storm. (Dave Epstein/WBUR)
Anticipated snowfall for Thursday's storm. (Dave Epstein/WBUR)

With additional reporting from WBUR's Allison Manning and Sara Rose Brenner

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Lisa Creamer Twitter Digital News Editor and Producer
Lisa Creamer is a digital editor and producer at WBUR.

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