Man Broke Into School To Save 24 People In Storm After Nearby Houses Refused Him Shelter

(Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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A Buffalo man who was refused shelter from nearby houses broke into a school Saturday night to seek shelter, saving two dozen other people in the mix.

Jay Withey got stuck in his truck Friday night during the deadly snow storm that rocked Buffalo. Withey allowed two other strangers to sleep in his car with him, according to WBEN before trying to find shelter at any of the nearby homes.

“I walked to the houses to see if I could find shelter, any house that had lights on,” Withey told the station. “I had $500 that I was offering, to sleep on their floor.”

But everyone turned Withey down, forcing him to go back to his truck. (RELATED: Fed-Up Armed Locals Defend Buffalo Neighborhood From Looters)

“It’s the only time in my life I actually thought I was going to die.”

Then his truck ran out of fuel Saturday morning, forcing Withey to think quick or the trio would freeze to death.

“Off to the left, I could see there was a school about 600, 700 feet away from us. I knew the power would be on, there would be heat in there and I was guaranteeing there would be food in there,” Withey reportedly said.

Withey stopped along the way to get others who had been stranded, including seven senior citizens, and broke into the Pine Hill Primary Center. The group set up shelter in the cafeteria and only ate what was needed.

The group moved out late Christmas Day, but no before Jay cleared all the cars of the individuals who spent the night with him.

Prior to leaving, he fixed the broken window at the school with cardboard and duct tape and apologized for breaking in.

“To whomever it may concern, I’m terribly sorry about breaking the school window and for breaking in the kitchen,” he wrote. “I had to do it to save everyone and get them shelter and food and a bathroom. Merry Christmas Jay.”

The Cheektowaga Police Department found the letter when they responded to the break in and asked for help finding Withey, assuring him he would not face charges.

Police later identified him and thanked him, with Withey telling authorities he and the group he rescued were planning a summer get together.