Buffalo Area Firm Helps Stranded Thruway Motorists

10:43 PM, Dec 4, 2010   |    comments
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CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. - In the aftermath of the Thruway shutdown earlier this week which left hundreds stranded for a day or more, stories continue to emerge of people doing their part to help out.

While some assisted by bringing food or water to forlorn motorists, others came to the rescue simply by using some common sense.

From their offices on Harlem Road at Dingens Street in Cheektowaga, workers at Network Task Group had a bird's eye view of the scene.

"You could see the whole Thruway was shut down...things weren't moving an inch," recalled Network Task Group Operations Manager Frank Rodriguez. 

With no way to drive out of their situation, strandees who tried to set out on foot in the deep snow were in for a rustic adventure at best, especially because the Thruway is mostly lined with some sort of barrier. Behind Network Task Group it amounts to a chain linked fence with a jagged top.

"The first I saw approach the fence were a couple of truckers and one was wearing just a tee shirt. He looked like he was freezing and told me he hadn't eaten in more than 16 hours. Then there were several women trying to scale the fence,... some of them got their clothing caught and were hung up or falling," Rodriguez told WGRZ-TV.

Then Rodriguez and his co-workers had an idea.

"Well, we're a telecom company so we have to pull cable and get up into ceilings.. so we've got 6 foot ladders and 8 foot ladders," explained technician Dan Erb.

At the suggestion of the owner of the company, they placed the ladders to form a bridge over the chain link fence allowing for a safer passage for those seeking to escape, and believe up to two dozen stranded motorists may have used them as a means to do so.

"One lady got over and then looked like she was getting sick in the street. I went to help her but she shunned me away and went down the street...but the ones we could help we told them they were more than welcome to come in, get warm, use the bathroom...whatever they needed," said Erb.

"We were just happy that we were able to provide a means to get food and drink and take them back to their cars and help hold em over for the time being," added Rodriguez.

With a bit of ingenuity they perhaps proved --in these parts at least-- that good fences do indeed make for good neighbors

Click on the video icon to watch the story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Bill Boyer.

WGRZ-TV, wgrz.com

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