Driving back from the March for Life, Nebraska pro-lifers overcome terrible weather and a frightful highway accident

By Marilyn M. Synek, Vice President, University of Nebraska Students for Life

Editor’s note. This is the third and concluding story from pro-lifers describing the terrible weather they encountered after leaving Washington, DC, last Friday, having attended the annual March for Life commemorating the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Each account is a story of faithfulness and good cheer, despite being caught for up to a day on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Photo credit: Drew Joe Miller

We left DC early Friday afternoon at 3 PM instead of staying until Saturday night. Our plan was to try to outrun the storm. Our leaders were concerned we wouldn’t get out of the city until Monday if we stayed, and that would cause us to miss another day of school.

Three hours into our trip, we were diverted off the interstate. Two semi-trucks jackknifed, blocking west-bound traffic, causing the Pennsylvania Turnpike to be closed. We waited at a gas station for 2-1/2 hours until they gave us the all clear and reopened the highway.

We were driving along 1-76 when traffic came to a complete standstill. We buckled down for the night and woke up the next morning to find ourselves buried in 2 feet of snow!

To pass the time on Saturday, we played cards, watched movies, and did homework. We were told to carefully ration our food and toilet paper, and we filled up our empty water bottles with snow. In the early afternoon, the volunteer fire department came by with 18 bottles of water for us and a bobcat. They scooped out the car in front of us and told us the plan was to come back for the buses and semis after they finished scooping out all the cars. Some of our members went out and played in the snow to burn off their energy.

At 9 PM Saturday night, 24 hours after being trapped on the bus at mile marker 133.6, a group of men came and began digging us out. A snowplow came and cleared a path in front of us.

We turned around and drove east towards Bedford, PA. A local elementary school had graciously opened up its cafeteria for us to sleep in.

The town was fairly small, so unfortunately there weren’t that many places still open to buy food at 11 at night. Several members in our group volunteered to walk to a gas station 2-1/2 miles away and bring back food.

On our way back to the elementary school, a very nice gentleman stopped and offered us a ride back to the school. We ate, cleaned up the best we could without showers, and went to sleep. We left that morning at 7 AM, took an alternative route to avoid the turnpike, and were finally Nebraska bound again.

Our group received enormous support for our pro-life elected officials. Both of our senators, Senator Sasse and Senator Fischer, and Congressman Smith Tweeted out their prayers and encouragement while we trapped. Governor Ricketts even went so far as to FaceTime our group to make sure that we were warm and fed, and thanked us for our pro-life advocacy. I am proud to have so many pro-life officials representing our state.

We finally returned home at 7 AM Monday morning. We were able to take much needed showers and stretch out. There is no time for resting in the pro-life movement though. Our group is looking forward to attending the Nebraska Walk for Life this weekend at the State Capitol.