Large piles of snow have made driving more challenging throughout the region, but one pile in LaPorte was ruled a factor in a crash Thursday that left a 91-year-old woman seriously hurt.
Virginia Loeffler, of LaPorte, was flown to a South Bend hospital after colliding with an oncoming vehicle because her vision was restricted by a large pile of snow in the median of U.S. 35, police said.
Loeffler had turned into the median Thursday afternoon and was attempting to cross the four-lane highway at 18th Street.
She wound up pulling in front of a southbound car driven by Lucia Calderone, 31, also of LaPorte.
Police said a large pile of snow plowed from the highway was in the median, restricting Loeffler from having a full view of oncoming traffic as she attempted to cross.
Loeffler was taken by ambulance to IU Health LaPorte Hospital and transferred by air to Memorial Hospital of South Bend.
Loeffler complained of pain over her entire body, police said. No specific injuries were listed.
She was stable condition Friday afternoon.
With huge snow piles just about everywhere, LaPorte police Capt. Tom Heath said drivers can safeguard themselves by pulling out from behind large piles of snow slowly so they can stop if they notice any oncoming vehicles.
"You can always creep out to see," Heath said.
Because heavy snow and long periods of bitter cold have delayed any melt off, Indiana Department of Transportation crews are running out of room for accumulating snow plowed from the highways, agency spokesman Matt Deitchley said.
Crews are pushing back snow piles away from the edge of roads as much as possible, he said. Where blowing and drifting has been especially bad, crews are moving snow elsewhere.
"Our crews have been active as best as they possibly can to move those snow piles," Deitchley said. "This winter has been more of a challenge than I can remember in recent years."
The piles remain a problem in Porter County, too. Porter County police Sgt. Larry LaFlower on Friday issued a warning to drivers to take extra caution at intersections where visibility is limited. He said drivers should pull out slowly into intersections where snow is piled to reduce the risk of getting in an accident.