Jay Withey, who saved more than 20 people during the deadly snowstorm that shrouded Erie County, New York, in December has been thanked for his actions with tickets to the Super Bowl gifted to him in part by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. Legendary former Bills running back Thurman Thomas personally delivered the surprise to Withey Friday.
The blizzard buried Buffalo in nearly 52 inches of snow in late December, leaving many people stuck on snow-filled roadways as emergency personnel were unable to push through extremely dangerous whiteout conditions.
Withey had gone out in the storm to rescue a friend but quickly became trapped himself. Over the course of the night, he was turned down by several households he begged to shelter him, eventually huddling in cars with two other people that asked him for help. But just as their gas supply was becoming dangerously low, Withey discovered there was a school nearby.
After smashing the school window and opening the front doors, Withey trekked back into the snow to find others who were stuck, bringing them back to the building for food and warmth.
The next day, Christmas morning, Withey and the others were able to use snow blowers from the janitor's closet to free their cars from mounds of snow. Withey left a note behind apologizing for the break-in, which police found when they were eventually able to respond.
Police were able to find Withey and thank him. "He definitely saved some lives that day," Cheektowaga police chief Brian Gould said at the time.