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Posted on Jan 25, 2016 |

Indiana Students Stuck on Turnpike for More than 22 Hours

Indiana Students Stuck on Turnpike for More than 22 Hours

A view of the Pennsylvania Turnpike early Saturday morning, taken from a bus full of Indiana students who had been stranded overnight.

A view of the Pennsylvania Turnpike early Saturday morning, taken from a bus full of Indiana students who had been stranded overnight.

Almost 100 March for Life participants from Indiana, most of them high school students, were stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for almost 24 hours after a winter storm made it impossible for trucks to make it up the toll road’s hills — halting traffic for what the Associated Press estimated at 32 miles.

 

Finally able to move their buses at 7:30 pm Saturday, the group had spent the night on Turnpike after stopping at 9 pm Friday.

 

Everyone is warm and in good spirits,” Fr. Shaun Whittington, pastor of St. Nicholas Church in Sunman, emailed The Catholic Beat early yesterday at 11:30 am. “We’ve been praying and watching movies. Fireman dropped off extra water. The cars have been dug out but busses and trucks are not permitted to move yet.”

The students from St. Nicholas Church in Sunman were "in good spirits," Fr. Shaun Whittington told The Catholic Beat yesterday morning, when none of the travelers knew how long they would have to wait before the roads were cleared.

The students from St. Nicholas Church in Sunman were “in good spirits,” Fr. Shaun Whittington told The Catholic Beat yesterday morning, when none of the travelers knew how long they would have to wait before the roads were cleared.

Fr. Whittington, who led the group, told an AP reporter the young people weren’t  afraid because, “We’re on a pilgrimage, there’s going to be suffering with that.” However, by 6:30 pm — faced with the prospect of another night on the bus — he made this post on the parish Facebook page: “Keep praying! We are searching for materials on the bus to use to dig the bus out. We’re going to attempt to get out of here.”

 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf called in the National Guard to help dig about 500 cars, trucks, and buses out of the snow that continued to fall all day. The intrepid St. Nicholas travelers finally made it back to Sunman at 6 am — after some surprise hospitality.

Some of the students make a brief foray in the snow.

Some of the students make a brief foray in the snow early Saturday afternoon.

“We have filled our bellies with a hot, late dinner,” one of the chaperones posted on the parish Facebook page. “The ladies at McDonald’s said they heard about us in the news and were happy to stay open late so they could feed us.

 

“From everyone on the bus we would like to thank everyone for your prayers for our safe arrival home. It has been an interesting journey.”

 

Photos courtesy Fr. Shaun Whittington

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Digging out the cars was only half the problem -- getting them moving again was the other half.

Digging out the cars was only half the problem — getting them moving again was the other half.