Blizzard Savior Given Tickets to the Super Bowl

Cheektowaga mechanic Jay Withey, aka 'Merry Christmas Jay,' credited with saving 2 dozen
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2022 1:18 PM CST
Updated Jan 21, 2023 6:00 AM CST
'Merry Christmas Jay' Hailed as Hero in Buffalo Storm
Jay Withey, aka "Merry Christmas Jay."   (Twitter/Cheektowaga Police Department)
UPDATE Jan 16, 2023 1:46 PM CST

A Good Samaritan in Buffalo who police say helped save two dozen lives during the city's December blizzard is getting a bit of a reward for his efforts. The Buffalo Bills are giving mechanic Jay Withey two tickets to next month's Super Bowl in Arizona, reports ESPN. It's possible the Bills themselves will be there, as they advanced on Sunday to the next round of the playoffs.

Dec 30, 2022 1:18 PM CST

On Thursday, the police department of Cheektowaga, one of the Buffalo suburbs slammed by the holiday weekend's deadly blizzard, put out a plea to the public. "Do you recognize 'Merry Christmas Jay'?" the department tweeted, stressing that Jay wasn't in trouble—they simply wanted to thank him for his "heroic actions." ABC News reports that the mystery man has now been IDed as 27-year-old Jay Withey, a local mechanic whom cops are now crediting with saving dozens of lives during the storm after he rescued stranded motorists from their snowed-in cars and sheltered them at a nearby school. Withey tells CNN that his ordeal started Friday around 6pm, when he got a call from a friend who'd become stuck in the snow and needed help.

As he searched for his friend, he picked up a young man named Mike who was walking in the storm with only a light jacket. Whitey's truck soon became stuck as well, and so he left Mike in the truck to find help. He said he couldn't find anyone willing to take them in, so he and Mike hunkered down in his truck and were soon joined by an elderly woman named Mary who was also stranded. By the next morning, one of his new companions had to go to the bathroom, which is when Withey spotted a school nearby on his GPS. "I'm going to break into that school, because I know they have heat and a bathroom," he recalls thinking. And that's just what he did, using an extra set of brake pads to shatter a window. He got Mike and Mary inside, then headed back into the blizzard to see who else he could find.

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All in all, Withey rescued some two dozen people, bringing them back to the school, where he also raided the cafeteria to get the group some apples and cereal; he also found some mats in the gym for them to sleep on. Per an interview with WBEN via WKBW, the group was even able to scrounge up some screens to watch the Bills play the Bears on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, the group found some snowblowers in a custodian's closet and were able to free their cars. Withey, who didn't leave "until I made sure everyone was OK," also left a note behind apologizing for breaking into the school. "Just trying not to die," he explained. Cheektowaga cops posted a pic of "the amazing Jay" and some of his stranded friends, who now say they're thinking of planning a reunion barbecue over the summer. "This is a bond," Sabrina Andino, rescued by Withey, tells WKBW. "We're all survivors." (More uplifting news stories.)

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