A New York man is being hailed as a hero after rescuing two dozen motorists who found themselves trapped in cars during a historic snowstorm that slammed the state last week. Jay Withey received a phone call that his friend was trapped in his vehicle and got in his truck to help. Unfortunately, he found himself stuck in the snow as well and couldn’t find anybody to help him.
He tried asking people living nearby for help but was turned away. “I plead with them, ‘Please, please can I sleep on the floor? I’m in fear for my life,’ and they say, ‘No, I’m sorry,'” he said.
Withey returned to his truck and tried to wait out the storm. By the following day, he ran out of gas. He then checked his phone and saw a nearby elementary school. He decided to break into the building to get out of the storm.
Once he was inside, he ventured back out into the dangerous conditions and found two dozen other people who were also stranded and directed them back to the school.
“My mission was just to keep going out and grabbing as many people as I can and to just keep going,” Withey told NBC News. “I just kept walking, and I walked until I cried, and I couldn’t walk any further. I was just beat.”
He even broke into the kitchen so he could cook a hot meal for everybody. After spending 24 hours inside the school, Withey found a snowblower and used it to help everybody dig out their cars.
Before he left, Withey wrote a note apologizing for breaking into the school, signing it “Merry Christmas Jay.” “I’m terribly sorry about breaking the school window and for breaking in the kitchen,” he wrote. “I had to do it to save everyone and get them shelter and food and a bathroom.”
Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould praised Withey for rescuing the stranded motorists and ensuring they were taken care of. “We know that due to the actions of many people like Jay, there are many families who were fortunate enough to be reunited with their loved ones,” Gould said.