A man in Buffalo, New York has been praised for breaking into a school to provide shelter for people during a blizzard.
On December 23rd, mechanic Jay Withey was on his way to help a friend, but ended up getting stuck in the snow.
Due to the severity of the storm, Jay let two strangers (an elderly woman called Mary and a young man named Mike) into his truck. He then knocked on many homes for shelter, but was turned away.
He told WBEN radio: “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.”
After the three slept in Jay’s truck, which eventually ran out of fuel, the mechanic decided to break in 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,” he explained.
Jay broke the school windows with brake pads and opened the doors to let Mike and Mary in.
After turning off the school alarm, the 27 year old went outside to help a total of 24 people and two dogs who had also been stranded in their cars. Everyone was able to have shelter, food, as well as gym mats to sleep on.
On Christmas morning, Jay and others used snow blowers from the janitor’s cupboard to free their cars from the snow.
He then left a note for the school to apologise for breaking in. The note read: “To whomever it may concern, I’m terribly sorry about breaking the school window and for breaking in the kitchen.
“Got stuck at 8 pm Friday and slept in my truck with two strangers, just trying not to die.”
He added: “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. Merry Christmas Jay.”
According to CNN, Jay considers himself a religious man and views the experience as a blessing. He said that if one person had offered him room in their home, he wouldn’t have been able to help the others.
In a Facebook post, Cheektowaga PD said: “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. ”
No charges were filed against Jay for breaking into the school during the storm, which killed at least 39 people.