During Historic Blizzards, A New York Man Breaks Into Schools To Keep Warm

Amid a deadly New York winter storm, one New York man took action to protect his family. Jay Withey’s truck ran out of fuel Friday, December 23, leaving him stranded in Cheektowaga, New York, east of Buffalo. The most people he encountered stuck outdoors without a place to go, the more he sought refuge inside Pine Hill School.

As Withey told NBC News, “I kept going out and grabbing as many people as possible. I just kept walking, and I walked until I cried, and I couldn’t walk any further.” Eventually, he broke a window to get inside the school. A blizzard kept officials from getting to the school after the alarm went off.

Cheektowaga Police Department posted on their social media asking for help in finding “Jay,” a man who helped several people find a safe place to stay during the blizzard. It was for his heroic actions that saved lives that the police department thanked him.

Photos from the surveillance video showed people gathered inside, which they shared in their message. Withey left a note explaining his situation and apologizing for breaking into the school. To whomever it may concern, I sincerely apologize for breaking the school window and entering the kitchen. “I got stuck at 8 pm Friday and slept in my truck with two strangers to avoid death.”

When asked by NBC News about his experience, Withey said that he left the front door open for others to enter. Inside, he grabbed food and blankets while the nurse’s office had water and blankets. NBC News reports that he helped 24 people during the blizzard, as well as two dogs.

In an interview with NBC News, Withey told the network that after he got in touch with the police, the police chief thanked him for taking care of the group. Withey said, “I hope people realize how important it is to be kind and help one another.”

New York City’s National Guard reports that 40 people have died due to the storm, which is likely to rise as more door-to-door checks are conducted. The state is also preparing for possible flooding due to the heavy snow.