A Buffalo man saved 24 people during last week’s brutal winter storm that dumped up to 50.3 inches in western New York.
Local Mechanic Saves Lives
Jay Withey, a mechanic in the town of Cheektowaga who had ventured out to help a trapped friend, went out to help a friend, but instead got caught in the snow himself.
Over the course of the night, he would be turned away by several people he begged for help, eventually committing a final act of desperation to save himself and more than 20 others from the brutal storm.
“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.
After being turned down by everyone, he walked back to his truck defeated and with a new fear he had never experienced.
“It’s the only time in my life I actually thought I was going to die.”
The next morning, after sleeping in his truck with two strangers he saved from the cold, Withey noticed that his GPS showed a nearby school, EDGE Academy. Using an extra set of brake pads, Withey smashed through a window of the school so he could open the front door and let everyone in.
Winter Hometown Hero
Jay Withey and the 25 others, including seven senior citizens, made their way into Pine Hill Primary Center and took shelter, respectfully setting up only what was needed. They set up their main area in the cafeteria, helping themselves only to the food they needed and nothing in the fully stocked freezer, according to police.
Jay made sure everyone was taken care of at the school.
Withey said he believes the event was a blessing in disguise, and that if just one person had taken him up on his plea for shelter that night, he would not have saved all those people.
The Cheektowaga Police Department posted on Facebook on December 29th “We identified the amazing Jay with the help of his friends and family! Our Chief was able to speak to him and express our gratitude for his heroic actions. This is a picture we received of them that night. Jay said they are all now like family and planning a SUMMER get together. “
The hometown hero felt bad about breaking into the school to save lives of others who were stranded, and left an apology note
He also fixed the broken window using cardboard and duct tape
As the storm began to move away from the area late Christmas Day and everyone was ready to leave, “Merry Christmas Jay” found the school’s snowblower and cleared all the vehicles that belonged to his survival pack.
A Very Happy Ending
Withey will not face any charges.
Jay Withey was interviewed on a local Buffalo podcast and was able to tell his story first hand. Listen to it here.
Read the full story and more details about the heroic event, here.
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