CINCINNATI – A local church group had to dig themselves out of the snow with cardboard boxes after their buses spent 22 hours stuck on the highway this weekend.
Eighty-six members of the St. Nicholas Church of Sunman, Indiana and other churches from the area traveled to Washington D.C. for the “March for Life,” an anti-abortion event.
The march had a smaller-than-usual crowd this year due to the large winter storm that hit the East Coast Friday and Saturday, but the St. Nicholas group stuck it out, expecting the worst of the storm to hit further south. On their way home, the church group rode along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. As snow continued to fall, the highway was shut down.
More than 500 cars, trucks and buses were stranded on the highway outside of Pittsburgh, according to the Associated Press.
The parishioners passed the time by praying, watching movies and eating aboard their coach buses, according to Father Shaun Whittington.
“The people in the cars, it was much harder for them,” he said. “They would have to cycle their cars on and off to save fuel, so many people on the buses were checking on people in the cars.”
After 17 hours went by, they hadn’t heard anything about what was happening. Then members of the National Guard and highway crews arrived.
“They came through with a backhoe and started unsticking the cars,” Whittington said. “They started getting the cars out around 2 and we waited because they said we were next. By about 6 o’clock, the sun was starting to set, [we knew] they’re not going to get us out.”
That’s when they got out and decided to dig themselves out, using shovels and cardboard.
“It was hard work,” Whittington said. “It was cold, but the men in our group just got in and did it.”
By 7:30 p.m. Saturday, after 22 hours of waiting, they were free.