I had to do it to save everyone' Man breaks into school, shelters over 20 people from blizzard

Some residents of Erie County, New York, were left in a dire situation last weekend as a deadly and historic blizzard plowed through the area, leaving them stranded in the howling snow with nowhere to go and their cars running out of gas and police unable to rescue them.

Jay Withey, a mechanic in Cheektowaga, was one of the people who got stuck in the snow on Friday after venturing out to help a friend who had gotten stuck. After being rejected by several people throughout the night, he committed a final act of desperation to save himself and over 20 others from the violent storm.

At six o’clock he got a call from a friend who had gotten stuck in the rapidly accumulating snow, and thus his night had officially begun. He said I was the only one who would come over from his circle of friends, so Withey said he would go and get him.

To get to his friend, Withey drove erratically among the abandoned cars strewn along the highway. Within seconds, he spotted a young man named Mike strolling by in sneakers and a light jacket. To get out of the chill, he suggested Mike get in the truck.

The Phrase “I Fear For My Life” Is Used To Express Extreme Anxiety

He left Mike in the truck and went to knock on the doors of nearby homes in hopes of finding a place to stay. According to Withey, he visited 10 homes and offered $500 to sleep on the floor. There was unanimous rejection from everyone he approached. As he put it, “I beg with them, ‘Please, please can I sleep on the floor, I’m in fear for my life,’ and they say, ‘No I’m sorry.

The Phrase I Fear For My Life Is Used To Express Extreme Anxiety

Dejected, Withey attempted to walk back to his truck but got lost in the blizzard. His vision began to blur, and he began to experience muscle cramps. “I’m fearing for my life,” he cried. Then, far off in the distance, he caught sight of the same flashing light that had been next to his truck when he left it.

Withey said that after making his way back to the truck by calling the police, he was told that rescue wouldn’t be possible because of the severe weather. He also found out that the friend who had called for help had been saved by the police. With the gas gauge dangerously close to empty, Withey was worried but exhausted, so he attempted a nap.

After hearing a knock at the car window at 11 o’clock at night, he opened the door to find Mary, an elderly woman who had been trapped in her vehicle since 4 p.m. and was in desperate need of assistance. She was instructed to join the rest of the group in the truck by his command.


I Stayed To Make Sure Everybody Was Okay, And Then I Went Home

Withey’s truck finally ran out of gas the next morning, forcing the group of three to hunker down in Mary’s van, which was also nearly out of gas. As time progressed, Mary realized she had to go to the restroom. At that moment, Withey claimed, he sensed her embarrassment and checked the GPS on his phone, where he discovered the nearby EDGE Academy.

I Stayed To Make Sure Everybody Was Okay, And Then I Went Home

He said, “I know they have heat and a bathroom, so I’m going to that school and I’m going to break into that school.”Withey, despite the blaring of the school’s alarm system, broke a window with a spare set of brake pads so that he could let Mike and Mary inside.

According to Withey, “there are a lot of elderly people that are stranded in their cars” when they take a stroll around the neighborhood. “As a result of me, every single dog that one person brought to school is now safely inside. I have about ten students in my class right now.” He speculated that their ages ranged from the twenties to the seventies.

Once inside the school, Withey and the others found some apples and cereal in the cafeteria, silenced the alarm, and settled on mats in the gym for the night. It’s a relief for everyone to be inside the school, where it’s warm and they can eat, he said.


I Did What I Did Because It Was The Only Way To Ensure Everyone’s Safety

A man of faith, Withey claims that he sees his current situation as a blessing in disguise. He claimed that he could not have saved so many lives that night if even one person had responded to his offer of shelter.

When the man who had turned him away saw Withey clearing snow from the cars, he came over to him in tears, saying he couldn’t sleep because of the guilt he felt for turning Withey away.

I Did What I Did Because It Was The Only Way To Ensure Everyone's Safety

After school was let out for the holiday, Withey stayed until 8 o’clock that night. He said, “I didn’t leave until I made sure everyone was OK,” and then he mentioned that they set up a group chat to keep in touch.

When police were able to respond to the alarm Withey set off when he entered the school, they found a note in which he apologized for the break-in he had committed.

The note read, “To whom it may concern, I am extremely sorry for breaking the school window and for breaking into the kitchen.” It went on to say, “Got stuck at 8 pm Friday and slept in my truck with two strangers, just trying not to die.” “There were also 7 elderly people who had run out of gas and were stranded. Because I was the only one who could save everyone and get them to safety, food, and toilets, I had to take this drastic measure.” His closing line read, “Merry Christmas Jay.”

With the help of the public, the Cheektowaga Police Department was able to track down Withey after releasing his note and images from a surveillance camera. As police chief Brian Gould told CNN, they were having trouble reaching the area where Withey was last seen. The chief praised Withey, saying that his actions exemplified the strength of the community in the area.

We were totally taken aback by the fact that he had over 20 people at the school, plus two dogs, he said.An act of heroism and a good person in general. “He definitely saved some lives that day,” Gould said of him.


According to Withey, he got his truck stuck twice as he drove past snow drifts that were several feet tall. Once he was able to dig his way out, but the second time around he gave up.

“The snow is falling just as fast as I’m shoveling,” he said. Withey became anxious when he realized that his clothes were drenched and he had only a quarter of a tank of gas left.


  • Karan Sirari

    I am an author and a public speaker. I was born in India and have travelled to many different countries. I have a masters in public communication from California University and I love to write about famous peoples from different industries.

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