DEPEW, N.Y. (WIVB) – Drivers involved in a multi-vehicle pileup on the Thruway warmed up at Salvatore’s Garden Place Hotel Tuesday night.
The Transit Road hotel served as a temporary shelter for about 50 people who were bused in from the multi-vehicle accident.
Drivers told News 4 the pileup came out of nowhere.
“There’s just a wall of snow in front of me, I can’t see anything,” described Cory Zeiner, traveling to Buffalo from Rochester. “The next thing I know all of the cars are stopped and someone is swerving across my lane of traffic and I hit the breaks and hook right into the back of a semi, nothing really much I could do”
Zeiner was driving a box truck and luckily wasn’t injured. He described the scene as chaotic.
“There were a lot of vehicles that were totaled and cars in ditches all over the place,” he said.
Lisa Grover, from Tonawanda, said there were whiteout conditions.
“I noticed up ahead there were cars in a ditch and then there were semis, three or four semis just spread all over the road,” she said. “Where do you go because everywhere you go you’re going to hit a car.”
Grover said her only option was to pull into a ditch, praying no one behind her would hit her. She questions why the Thruway wasn’t shut down when it became clear there were blizzard conditions.
“It’s really terrifying, it could’ve been a lot worse,” she said.
She told News 4 she and another woman who pulled off next to her, Tammy Dawn, sat in their vehicles together to save gas.
“The visibility was bad but since I was on the side of the road and out of harms way I didn’t get out, I figured help was on the way,” said Dawn, who was traveling from Rochester with her grandson.
Dawn told News 4 eventually first responders told them it was safe to leave their vehicles and put them on buses to go to Salvatore’s Garden Place hotel.
Dawn learned there that someone had died in the crash.
“I’m thankful me and my grandson are okay and my condolences go to the family,” she said. “I don’t know who it is but I feel very bad for whoever it was, it was a bad accident.”
Hotel staff provided them with blankets, water, hot chocolate and shelter as long as they needed.
Lancaster Police utilized three Lancaster School District buses to transport people trapped on the Thruway to safety Tuesday night.