Kentucky State Police Post 10 reported that calls involving car wrecks started coming in around 8 a.m. and continued nonstop for nearly an hour.
Slick roads from freezing rain mixed with snow, accompanied by cold temperatures, made driving on certain roadways treacherous.
Twenty-five wrecks occurred in Harlan and Bell counties between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Most of the wrecks in Bell County began at Varilla Curve and Laurel Hill. Wrecks in Harlan were reported at Elcomb, on KY 840 at Baxter and on KY 38, and numerous reports came in from U.S. 119 between Baxter and Rosspoint and on Sukey Ridge. At least three wrecks in Harlan included injuries.
The wrecks were happening so fast, Post 10 lieutenants, sergeants and detectives were assisting troopers in working the crashes.
Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird and his deputies, Harlan City Police officers and Evarts City Police officers were busy assisting with the wrecks as well.
Police said the black ice was taking people by surprise. Only certain portions of the roads were frozen, and while driving normal speed drivers would unexpectedly hit the ice, and it would be too late to regain control of their vehicles.
The icy roads were blamed for two crashes that killed three people, including an emergency official and a pregnant woman in other counties.
Paintsville EMS Director Christa Burchett, 33, of Lowmansville, was helping a pregnant woman injured in a car crash when a coal truck skidded and struck both women, killing them, Johnson County Judge-Executive Tucker Daniel said.
Daniel said Burchett was helping Erica Brown, 24, of River, whose car had skidded off the road, into an ambulance.
Daniel said the coal truck was coming over a hill and braked but slammed into a police cruiser and, ultimately, the two victims. Brown died at the scene, and Burchett, who was also assistant fire chief, was pronounced dead soon after at a nearby hospital.
Police said Peggy Livers, 43, of Scottsville, died after her car hit a patch of ice and skidded into a wood plank fence, then overturned.
Meanwhile, school officials in Magoffin County said a school bus carrying about 20 students slid off an icy road and struck a tree.
Superintendent Joe Hunley said six students and the bus driver were treated at a local hospital.
The National Weather Service posted a hazardous weather forecast for today with freezing rain and icy roads expected.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.