A stranded motorist made it to safety during a NYC snowstorm, then made sure dozens of others did too
After a motorist stranded in a deadly winter storm in upstate New York found a safe place to wait out, he went to great lengths to bring dozens of other people there, in what officials hail as saving lives and a heroic rescue. an effort.
Jay Withey, 27, of Kenmore, New York, ensured that 24 people stranded on the side of a road during a violent storm were not hurt, police said.
On Friday, a blizzard caught Withy in Cheektowag, east of Buffalo. When he ran out of fuel on Saturday morning, he decided to leave the car and drive to Pine Hill School, where he broke a window to get inside.
But he didn’t stay inside for long. He soon returned to the street, looking for other stranded motorists he could direct to the school.
“My mission was to just keep going out and grabbing as many people as possible, and just keep going,” Whity said. “I just kept walking and I kept walking until I started crying and couldn’t go any further. They just beat me up.”
Inside the school, he opened the kitchen door to gather supplies to feed the group. He also found a nurse’s office and collected blankets and water.
Withy said he left the school’s front door open at night so others could join the group.
According to him, they were stuck at the school for about 24 hours or so.
When it was safe to leave on Sunday morning, Withey said, he found a snowplow at the school and helped everyone dig out their cars so they could drive home.
“I just couldn’t ask for more better people to get stuck with,” he said.
But he got upset about the broken window and tried to fix it on the way out, but to no avail. Withy left a note for the officers, apologizing for the broken window pane and for looking for supplies.
“I am terribly sorry for breaking the window at school and crashing in the kitchen,” he wrote. “I had to do this to save everyone and give them shelter, food and a bathroom.”
He signed it “Merry Christmas, Jay” but did not give a last name. So when the Cheektowag Police Department found him, they didn’t know who to thank.
They posted a note and security camera images on social media asking for help identifying the Good Samaritan.
“We watched the CCTV and saw people taking care of people,” the police said in a statement. “This group of wonderful people took care of each other and the building they took refuge in. We want to identify ‘Jay’ and get recognition for his life-saving actions.”
Relatives and friends who saw the police post knew who the officials were looking for.
“He is a very selfless person and in no way did what he did for the sake of any kind of recognition,” said his cousin Vincent Consiglio. “That’s who he is. I always help people.”
Withy said the police chief thanked him and praised him for helping to take care of others.
Chief Brian Gould said the entire department is grateful for Withy’s actions and wants the community to use his story to help them mourn after the storm.
“We know that through the actions of many people like Jay, many families have been fortunate enough to be reunited with their loved ones,” Gould said.
Police said they do not expect the school to press any charges.
The storm is blamed for at least 40 deaths in New York, most of them in Buffalo. Authorities have warned that the death toll could rise as the National Guard conducts door-to-door checks.
It’s a Christmas that Whity will never forget.
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