A Tulsa motorist died in a rainstorm, last Tuesday, around sunset. The scenario seems so easy to happen to anyone. His vehicle hydroplaned and left the highway, and landed in a stormwater channel that was 15' - 20' ft. deep.
Tulsa citizens found his body and vehicle the next day, It was swept over a mile away.
Public safety officials emphasize that motorists should only drive at speeds that road conditions warrant. The problem for many drivers is that they are not aware of just how quickly the safe roads can become deadly.
It appears that Hwy 51 (Broken Arrow Expressway) no longer has the drainage it used to have. When the Highway dept. added a 3rd & 4th lane where there used to be a center median ditch.
Because of shortcuts like ignoring stormwater runoff capacity, motorists should always reduce speeds in times of precipitation, but especially when driving toward the bottom of slopes in the roads.
Hwy dept engineers should also reassess their decisions about guard rails and cables. This creek was not visible to east-bound motorists and has no guard rails or even a sign marker.
Mingo Flood Vulnerabilities
My wife & I narrowly avoided disaster in the 1984 flood. We were visiting friends at their 31st & Mingo area home, and stayed late, waiting for the heavy rains to stop. We left around midnight & stalled out our car under the 31st & Yale overpass, in 10 inches of water. Fortunately we got the car out and made it home. The next day that underpass had a high water mark of 74" above the pavement.
History of Mingo Creek
Eastern Tulsa is part of the Verdigris River watershed, but the land is very flat and drainage happens slowly, as result.
In 1984, at least 10 Tulsans died in a Memorial Weekend flash flood. As a result, Tulsans have spent billions in the past 35 years on stormwater management. But Oklahoma Highway Dept. engineers decided to fill in the center ditch along Hwy 51, to allow more traffic capacity, without having to purchase more right-of-way from landowners.
A blogger known as "Tulsa Gal" wrote a detailed story of the 1984 flood which killed at least 10 Tulsans. The photos show just how dangerous the Mingo Valley stormwater matter can be.
Now the Tulsa Police dept details what's known about the death of a 55 year old Tulsan, when his vehicle went off the hwy. on Tuesday night, in the most flood-prone area of the expressway.