Mysterious oil spill causes driving chaos

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A County Road 43 sign marker in Hallville, roughly in the centre of the area motorists were cautioned to avoid. Cars reportedly slipped off the road here around the sharp curves

On September 27, motorists using County Road 43 between Kemptville and Winchester had to take alternative routes, owing to a mysterious oil or hydraulic fluid spill on the roadway. The spill was causing the roadway to be slick, with the resulting safety concerns leading to emergency road closures in some spots. 

Officials from the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry identified the problem on social media, but gave little details as to the cause. Motorists were advised to avoid both County Road 43 and County Road 1, though in the case of the ladder road, it was not clear whether it was the Reids Mills Road section or the Mountain Road section affected, or both. 

It is unclear exactly where the spill came from, but the scope of the spill suggests that the fluid was leaking from a moving vehicle. Motorists within the village of Kemptville reported experiencing slippery road conditions on that stretch of County Road 43, possibly originating near a gas station at the intersection of County Roads 43 and 44. Slippery conditions were also reported closer to Winchester, with reports of cars in the ditch along that stretch of County Road 43 after encountering the slick road conditions. 

“I was turning into [St. Michael Catholic High School] and was wondering what the heck was going on with my brakes. It felt like ice,” wrote one social media user. “As I was braking, I noticed I was sliding a bit and I was like it’s too warm to be icy. The road had a bit of a rainbowy glisten to it,” another user wrote. Yet another chimed in with a harrowing story, writing “I came close to clipping 3 cars after fishtailing back and forth between my lane and oncoming traffic twice. The guy in front of me slammed his brakes and when I hit mine, I was going to smash right into him, so I swerved left into oncoming traffic, then back into my lane fishtailing then left again, into oncoming traffic again, came 2 inches from a head on collision with a 5 ton truck, swerved back into my lane… It was nuts! I did this all in front of the firetruck, too, that was pulled off onto a side road so they saw firsthand how slippery it is. Close call. I feel very lucky to have made it!”

Roads were open again within a day as crews worked to make the roadway safe again by spreading sand to absorb the spill. Environmental spills can often be met with heavy penalties, but as of the time of writing, there is no word on who is responsible or what exactly happened. 

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