For Capital Region families, the tempting mounds of fresh snow can make for fun and wonderful memories, but one local highway superintendent says his drivers are seeing an alarming trend with kids tunneling in snowbanks too close the road.
“It is an issue. We have got to teach these kids to stay out of there. These trucks will kill them.”
Bethlehem Plow truck operator Mike Vasto recalls a few close calls when they have seen kids scramble out of snow piles and tunnels after they pass by. The cold, hard reminders are in recent headlines.
In 2016, 13-year-old Joshua Demarest died when a snow tunnel that he and a friend were playing in collapsed after a plow truck dumped a load of snow.
“Your heart just goes up in your throat. You know, you can’t see them,” says Bethlehem Highway Superintendent John Anastasi.
He says his drivers are growing more concerned that a child might get hurt. Even taking snowplows out of the equation, just playing in snow forts and tunnels alone is dangerous enough.
In the Chicago area, a 12-year-old girl died after a snow fort collapsed onto her and a friend.
Anastasi says he’s now reaching out his Bethlehem school district.
“Set something up with the schools-kindergarten to 5th grade and we are going to address this. We are actually going to bring a truck over and let them see how big these things really are.”
He’s also asking parents to keep their eyes on their kids while they are playing in the snow and to talk with them about the potential for danger.