Man saves 24 people during Buffalo blizzard

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Hero Jay (behind woman in wheelchair) with people he saved.

From Daily Mail:

“A Buffalo man has been praised for his bravery after saving 24 people from a deadly blizzard that ripped through western New York dumping up to 50.3 inches of snow on the region.

Jay Withey, 27, feared he was going to die entombed in his car where he had been forced to sleep with two strangers after his truck got stuck in the brutal snowstorm.

After a series of rejections to seek shelter, Withey returned to his truck which quickly ran out of gas, it was then the unsuspecting hero identified others stranded and decided to break into a nearby school.

Dubbed ‘Merry Christmas Jay’ Withey and his crew, including seven senior citizens, waited out the storm which has so far taken the lives of at least 40 people, that number set to rise.

‘I walked to the houses to see if I could find shelter, any house that had lights on. I had $500 that I was offering, to sleep on their floor,’ Withey told WBEN. ‘It’s the only time in my life I actually thought I was going to die.’

It was around 6am on Christmas Eve that Withey’s truck ran out of gas and the group had no other choice but to break into Pine Hill Primary Center.

‘Off to the left, I could see there was a school about 600-700 feet away from us. I knew the power would be on, there would be heat in there and I was guaranteeing there would be food in there,’ he said.

According to Cheektowaga Police Department, the group respectfully set up what they needed in the main area of the cafeteria, helping themselves to food to survive the treacherous weather system.

As the storm began to break late Christmas Day and everyone was ready to leave, ‘Merry Christmas Jay’ found the school’s snow blower and cleared all the vehicles that belonged to his group.

Withey then fixed the broken window they had used to get into the school using cardboard and duct tape leaving a note behind apologizing for breaking in.

‘To whomever it may concern, I’m terribly sorry about breaking the school window and for breaking in the kitchen,’ the letter states.

‘Got stuck at 8pm Friday and slept in my truck with two strangers just trying not to die. There were seven elderly people also stuck and out of fuel.

‘I had to do it to save everyone and get them shelter and food and a bathroom. Merry Christmas Jay.’

School officials and the police department were notified of the window breaking and after the roads were safe a police officer checked out the school and found the note which led them to view security camera footage.

Authorities posted a tweet thanking Withey for his ‘heroic actions.’

Read the rest of the story here.

Great job, Jay!


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Jackie Puppet
1 year ago

Glad he had the presence of mind to look for shelter for him & the others.

At the same time – the storm was forecast for at least a week – it shouldn’t have surprised anybody! Didn’t anybody make plans, or change them to make sure they weren’t out in the storm – without gas, food, emergency blankets, etc.?

I have an everyday carry bag, and my SUV also has stuff I’ might need in an emergency.

Jackie Puppet
1 year ago
Reply to  Jackie Puppet

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1 year ago
Reply to  Jackie Puppet

I think I’ve read that he went out into the blizzard in response to a call from a friend who was stranded and needed help. Which, thereafter, “Merry Christmas Jay” got stuck…therein came the “rest of the story.” But point taken….can’t go out into something like this for any reason without some prep. I worked on a NE Utah Indian “Rez” for 6 yrs and my car was always packed for 100+ degree temps, and -40 below temps …as well as w/food and water. Funny story…we were visiting family “back East” w/our little kids. We all, my mom & dad & relatives, decided to go on a short afternoon trip to an adjacent state…and our then 4-yr-old went to the refrigerator and started pulling food out into a shopping bag to take to the car. My parents were dumb-struck & didn’t know why he was doing it. We had to explain. 🙂 They did not really understand until they came to visit us in Utah, “on the Rez.”