The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 13, 2013

Editor stranded in ice storm experiences truest form of humanity

The last week brought horrors in the form of winter weather to Oklahoma and Texas. Snow and ice covered more than 300 miles of land and left many stranded in terrifying situations. I was one such person. A foolish drive left me alone with my car stuck on a steep hill of a back road, covered in ice with temperatures falling into the low 20s. But as is the case with any horror story, heroes emerged to aid the helpless.

I began driving from Oklahoma City at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 7. My goal was to reach my family in Rockwall, Texas, before dark. It’s roughly a 225 mile trek and on average takes 3 hours 15 minutes to complete. This time it took more than eight times that.

I was no more than five miles into the Lone Star State when the roads turned to pure ice. What has been called cobblestone ice forced traffic to a crawl, and bounced cars all over the highway. Every passing mile was accompanied by a holocaust of vehicles abandoned by their drivers.

I was forced to find an alternate route, which led me to Highway 82, where a jackknifed semi-truck blocked a bridge 1/2 mile up the road, making it impassable. Exhausted and hungry, I drove to a gas station, where an attendant told me that an even smaller road, Highway 56, would take me to I-75. I bought some food and continued my quest.

I made it five miles when I approached a hill. I had just made my way up a similar slope, so assumed I would be fine. I hit it at 25 mph, sliding and turning into various skids the whole way. The ditches on both sides were more than 20 feet deep. As I approached the top of the hill, my car stopped. It began to slip backward. Slowly, I started approaching one of the drop offs, and my automobile didn’t respond to any of my commands.

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