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SENC travelers trapped in wintry I-95 backup for 16 hours

Drivers share horror stories of I-95 traffic snarl up
Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 6:03 PM EST
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SOUTHEASTERN N.C. (WECT) - A winter storm caused a number of accidents along I-95 Tuesday that led to a major backup, trapping travelers from the Cape Fear area for hours.

“We were scared,” said Bailey Ferguson. “We didn’t have any phone service to get a hold of anybody or look anything up. We were just kind of stuck.”

Ferguson and Taylor Mooney left Oak Island for the Pittsburgh Steelers football game on Monday morning. Despite having spent hundreds on tickets to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s potentially last home game, they never made it.

“From 1:00 to 8:30 p.m. we moved what we think is about 26 miles is our estimation of that,” said Mooney. “From 8:30 til 4:30 in the morning, we were at a complete dead stop.”

They were one of the thousands of travelers stranded on I-95 in Virginia after a snowstorm turned the already busy road into a parking lot. The girls luckily had enough gas to stay warm but had no food to get them through the traffic they’d be trapped in for 16 hours.

“We had used a half a tank just sitting there trying to keep warm because it was like 25 degrees at that point,” said Ferguson. “We had to keep the heat on to keep warm and not freeze to death.”

Just a few miles ahead of them, a couple headed to a wedding realized they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It wasn’t until Lucy Watkins checked Twitter that she found out how serious the situation was.

“I was looking at people’s [tweets] saying, ‘I have kids, I’m out of gas, we don’t have food,’” said Watkins. “That’s when I said this is a bigger issue that I didn’t realize.”

Headed the opposite direction, one couple’s 14-hour trip home to Riegelwood from New York turned into nearly three days on the road. They hit the road at about 10:30 Monday morning but ran into traffic before noon.

“I even called 911 for assistance and they told me they couldn’t tell us anything and they didn’t know when help was going to get to us,” said Patricia Beavers.

David Beavers is diabetic and had to go 12 hours without any real food. By the time rescue crews were able to reach them at 11:30 Tuesday, he was nearly in diabetic shock. Thankfully, the first responders that made it to their aid weren’t going to let that happen

“Prince William Rescue — those guys were amazing and they were wonderful,” said Beavers. “One of the guys that [works for the rescue] gave up his MRE and gave it to my husband so that he could do his insulin.”

Finally, around 10 or 11:30 the next morning, the cars started to move.

“Once we started creeping, it was just ‘follow the car in front of you,’” said Watkins. “Not too closely because if you brake you could slide.”

About 25 hours after their journeys began, Watkins made it to her destination in Pennsylvania while Mooney and Ferguson stopped at a Richmond hotel to rest. For the Beavers, it was 72 hours later and a lesson learned that they finally made it home.

“When you’re traveling, make sure you have blankets, extra food, water, any medications that you may need,” said Beavers.

Now, she’s just happy to be out of the car and back to the comfort of her home and away from the snow.

“It was an experience that, believe me, I’ll never forget.”

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