National Guard sent to rescue drivers stuck overnight on Pennsylvania turnpike

Megan Specia
Philadelphia's Snow Covered, Windy Streets
Philadelphia's Snow Covered, Windy Streets

Dozens of drivers were stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike overnight on Friday into Saturday morning after getting caught in a potentially historic snow storm blanketing the East Coast from Washington to New York.

The National Guard was sent out to help local police clear roadways, but it could be hours before all of the motorists are on their way.

Those traveling in south western Pennsylvania near Somerset and Bedford saw the major highway come to a standstill late Friday night. Drivers were urged to stay off the road, with Pennsylvania authorities reporting that two feet of snow had piled up in some parts of the turnpike in the early hours of Saturday. Parts of the region are expected to see up to 30 inches of snow before the storm is over.

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See also: Blizzard brings near-record coastal flooding to New Jersey and Delaware

But despite early warnings from authorities to stay off the road, some drivers took their chances and were caught out in the storm on Friday night.

Many tweeted photos from the turnpike, with some describing being stranded on the road for upwards of 12 hours.

Duquesne University's Men's Basketball team were among those stuck on the road. By 9 a.m., the team had spent around 12 hours stuck in the same spot on the road. Photos from the turnpike show dozens of other buses in the same predicament.

But the team, and other drivers on the road, seemed to be making the best of the unfortunate situation.

Shannon Lawlor, one of those stuck on the turnpike, told Mashable she was still on a bus on the road at 9:45 a.m. She was on one of seven coach buses coming back from an anti-abortion demonstration in Washington the previous day on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

"We left around 4:30 p.m. As the snow progressed, we began to pull over and clean off our windshield wipers," Lawlor told Mashable in a message. "We eventually came to a screeching halt around 11 p.m. last night due to a four car pile up a couple of miles down the road."

Her bus was still waiting to be cleared on Saturday morning.

"Tow trucks and ambulances kept on getting stuck trying to clear up the accidents ahead of us. we [sic] ended up sleeping on the bus over night and got word around 7:30 this morning that the National Guard is on their way," said Lawlor.

Pennsylvania was not the only state seeing traffic snarls and transportation woes as a result of the storm. Several states along the east coast prepared for the storm by issuing states of emergency and warning drivers to stay off the road.

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