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Buffalo man hailed a hero for saving 24 people amid blizzard. He broke into school to find shelter, brought other stranded people inside — and even left a note for the school.



A Buffalo man was hailed a hero after courageously saving 24 people and two dogs trapped in the deadly blizzard that struck Western New York last week.

Jay Withey, a 27-year-old mechanic from Kenmore, New York, told WBEN radio that on December 23, his truck got stuck in the blizzard, and he could not find shelter in town.

“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 said. But, after he asked at least 10 people, each one denied Withey’s request to let him stay in their home.

According to Withey, he spent the night in his vehicle with two strangers who had also become stranded in the storm.

On Christmas Eve morning, with his truck running low on fuel, Withey walked to a nearby school.

“I knew the power would be on, there would be heat in there, and I was guaranteeing there would be food in there,” Withey told WBEN.

He smashed a window to gain access to the school and returned to the road to gather every stranded motorist he could find.

“I walked till I cried,” Withey stated. “It’s the only time in my life I actually thought I was going to die.”

The local hero led 24 people and two dogs into the school to escape the storm. The group of strangers took only what they needed from the school’s supplies to outlast the blizzard.

“You found something that’s helping you out,” Withey said. “You want to give it as much respect as possible.”

After much-needed rest, on Christmas Day, Withey grabbed the school’s snowblower and helped to dig out the strangers’ vehicles so they could be on their way.

“It was a Christmas miracle we could be together,” he added.

Before leaving, Withey used cardboard and duct tape to cover the window he had broken. The hero also left a note for school officials.

“To whom it may concern,” it read. “I’m terribly sorry about breaking the school window and for breaking in the kitchen. Got stuck at 8pm Friday and slept in my truck with two strangers just trying not to die. There were 7 elderly people also stuck and out of fuel. I had to do it to save everyone and get them shelter and food and a bathroom.”

The note was signed, “Merry Christmas Jay.”

On December 29, Cheektowaga Police Department posted photos from the school’s surveillance footage, asking for help to identify “Jay” for “going above and beyond actions that saved lives.”

“We watched the video surveillance and witnessed people taking care of people,” Cheektowaga Police Department stated. “There was a freezer full of food but no one touched it. They only ate what was necessary to stay alive. They used the gym for the kids to play and pulled the smart boards out of the classrooms to watch the news for updates.”

“When they were finally able to leave safely, you never would have known anyone was there. They plugged the smart boards back in, cleaned up all the tables and things that they used. This group of amazing people took care of each other and the building they found shelter in,” the statement continued.

Withey noted that he was humbled by the experience and believed it all happened for a reason.

“If any one of those people had let me come in their house for the $500 and be able to stay in their house, I would have never been put in the situation I was put in to help those people. So, I do believe that everything does happen for a reason,” said Withey.





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