Austin police chief takes to the road, and Twitter, during ice storm

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As icy weather pushed through Austin, drivers were caught off guard.

Austin police officers responded to more than 275 crashes between 6 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Friday.

The department had all hands on deck as road conditions deteriorated. Even Chief Art Acevedo was in uniform helping to clear those crashes.

“It was a good night in terms of getting the job done,” he said. “We were very fortunate that despite two, 20-car pileups, and about 250 crashes, we didn’t have any serious, critical injuries. And most importantly, no deaths, and I think that’s a blessing.”

The chief was also active on Twitter informing the public, occasionally taking a more light-hearted tone.

“We have become a society that’s the age of instant information and I really believe that by tweeting information, staying awake, staying out and engaged at night, the public is well-informed,’ he said. “You know, initially you saw that a lot of the school districts weren’t going to close and I think that the more information we put out there, the better position they were to make decisions…I think instant information is important and that’s part of our transparency and engagement strategy as a police department.”

The chief sent plenty of tweets last night including one that read: “To the individual who knocked over the metal pole @ 7th and the I-35 S. frontage road, don’t worry about removing it from Rdwy, I got it!”

After a busy and icy night, local doctors say they were surprised by how few serious injuries they saw. All three of the main medical groups in the area said they didn’t see a influx of injuries.

University Medical Center Brackenridge’s emergency room did see a few people come in after slipping on the ice, as well as a few injuries from car crashes.

“We’ve had worse ice storms,” said Dr. Christopher Ziebell. “We’re grateful people heeded the cautions. While there were a lot of car wrecks – they were mostly low-speed, low impact car wrecks.”

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