Troopers work to free stranded thruway drivers

Posted at 7:07 PM, Nov 18, 2014
and last updated 2015-11-13 19:07:55-05

Parts of the Thruway started closing around 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, but not before drivers got trapped in the quick-falling snow.

Pictures from the 90 looked like a city side street, with cars parked across all lanes.

"Just before the 400 there were so many cars it was like a parking lot up here," said North Tonawanda Resident William Smith, who got stuck on the thruway.  "We had to stop. You couldn't even see 10 feet in front of you."

Eventually about 140 miles of the Thruway were closed from Henrietta to near the Pennsylvania Line.  Still, dozens of drivers found themselves stuck.  Among them was the Niagara University Women's Basketball Team.  They were on their way back from a game in Pittsburgh when they got stuck about two miles from the Lackawanna tolls.

"We've been sitting here so long that we're completely snowed in.  There's four feet of snow around the bus.  "We're running low on water so we've been taking cups and putting snow in them and letting them melt," said head coach Kendra Faustin.

"Our main concern is the public and the people out there," explained State Police Trooper Victor Morales.  "We are trying to reach every single one of them.  And make sure they have gas, water, and if we can get them off we will."

State Police say they're working to clear the eastbound lane of the Thruway to give drivers a way to get off once they're freed from the snow.

"The weather has not cooperated with us," said Morales.  "Every time we do clear something it does clog back up again.  We do have a lot of drifting still going on, and the snow band isn't letting up."

Troopers say they'll be working throughout the night to get the stranded drivers off the Thruway, and they that don't want anyone to spend the night on the 90.