Turnpike travelers trapped for hours share stories of their survival kits

Motorists find their car's survival kits lacking

FREMONT, Ohio - Adam Travis knew he had a long trip when he left Chicago for New York Wednesday, but by Thursday afternoon he was still Ohio. Stuck on the Ohio Turnpike in bumper-to-bumper traffic following a multi-vehicle accident. Shortly after noon, Travis found himself and his Border Collie "Shotgun" idling in his Volvo wagon from late afternoon Wednesday until after the sun had risen in Sandusky County's eastern sky Thursday morning. 

Travis was well packed for survival. At least enough to spend the evening in his car, but at some point during the early morning hours of Thursday around 5 a.m. the Volvo's gas tank had hit empty. He and Shotgun huddled together until road workers with cans of fuel reached those in need.

The temperatures had dipped to single digits by Thursday morning. It got cold quickly in the Volvo.

"I got my dog up there. We were snuggling together," said Travis.

Carolyn Coffey had driven with her mother from Wyoming headed for Pittsburgh in her large Ford pickup, only to have the unfortunate luck to arrive about the same time as the Ohio Turnpike's icy, snow-filled weather took a toll on its drivers.

It soon took a turn for the worse. Coffey was fortunate to find friends in Lorain for late night shelter after she somehow managed to get through traffic.

"I've been in Wyoming 23 years and I have never seen anything like that. It was crazy," said Coffey.

Coffey is used to the possibility of getting stranded, but said yesterday's cold weather and mass accident responsible for three deaths was worse than she had ever seen. But, she packed for survival. Ready for long hours in the cold. Supplies filled her truck, and her truck's covered bed.

"We've got water, We've got our food. I've got a whole emergency kit, that's all in here, everything we need. Sleeping bags, you name it," said Coffey.

Jessica and Kyle Roth had traveled from Wisconsin, also heading to Pennsylvania only to end up in the same Turnpike mess. They didn't have anything in their SUV's trunk except for travel bags of clothes and a cooler, now empty by Thursday morning. 

A survival kit is now on their agenda for future road trips. They managed to exit the Turnpike and find a hotel, only to find all eastbound lanes still closed after they had awakened.

Having all they could handle of the Turnpike's closures in western Ohio by then, the Roths had just made their way to an Ohio Turnpike service stop, Towpath, close to the I-77 exit off of I-80.

"It was close to two hours just for that," said Jessica Roth. "We were driving on farm roads covered in nothing but snow," said Kyle Roth.

"We probably had enough clothing for 12 hours if we got completely trapped, but not enough drinks or food," added Kyle Roth.

"It's probably a good idea from now on to have a kit, especially if you have small children or animals," said Jessica Roth.

We're On Your Side with 5 items you should always keep in your car for emergencies:

  1. A few water bottles
  2. Food, non-perishable
  3. Things to keep you warm (blankets, clothes)
  4. Flashlight
  5. Cell phone charger

For information on building your own survival kit for your vehicle or home, click HERE .



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