New York Police Praise Man Who Broke Into School To Save Stranded Winter Storm Travelers

Police in New York praised a man who broke into a school to shelter travelers stranded during last week’s winter storm that left dozens dead. 

Jay Withey, of Cheektowaga, New York, broke into a local school during the storm in order to shelter 24 people who had been left stuck in their cars in the Buffalo suburb due to inclement weather. 

Withey, who left a note at the school apologizing for any damage caused by his actions, was praised by police, who called his actions heroic and credited him with saving lives. 

“We identified the amazing Jay with the help of his friends and family! Our Chief was able to speak to him and express our gratitude for his heroic actions,” the Cheektowaga Police said in a statement. 

Withey, 27, was stranded alongside dozens of others along Delavan Avenue in Cheektowaga on December 23 when he broke into a nearby school and went from car to car inviting them to come inside for shelter as cars were blocked due to snow and ice. 

“I said I have to do something there’s other people stuck around here,” Withey told WBEN radio. “I know there is. We can’t be the only ones stuck. So I told her I’m going to break into the school.”

Withey repeatedly went out looking for stranded travelers, saying it was “God’s will” that he broke into the school to save others. 

“Like I said, I walked til I cried,” he said. “I walked til I couldn’t walk anymore.”

Once inside the school, Withey and others were able to stay warm and find food to sustain themselves until it was safe to leave. Police praised Withey and the others for their actions in taking care of each other and not trashing the school’s facilities during their stay.

“We watched the video surveillance and witnessed people taking care of people. 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,” they said in a Facebook post aimed at identifying Withey. 

After Withey cleared the way out of the school with a snowblower and everyone left, he left a note apologizing for any damage to the school. “I’m terribly sorry about breaking the school window and for breaking in the kitchen,” he wrote a note that was only signed with his first name.  “I had to do it to save everyone and get them shelter and food and a bathroom.”

School officials do not plan on filing any charges against Withey or any of the others who stayed in the school to escape frigid conditions.

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