By Matt Kroschel
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — As calls to 911 began flooding the communications center, volunteers rallied to help hundreds of stranded travelers Saturday.
Red Cross volunteers activated an emergency shelter following Interstate 70’s closure due to several major wrecks, including a 20-car pileup.
The volunteers managed to set up the shelter and 80 people sought refuge there. But that is just a visible part of the response by a community coming together to help strangers passing through.
Brian Bovaird is the Summit County Emergency Manager. He says the compassion and acts of kindness by members of the community show how big of a heart the community has.
“I can’t say enough about that work the American Red Cross does for us. They’re the ones that run that show. We had four volunteers last night. One of them was in his 80’s and he walked to the shelter because the road conditions were so poor.”
Summit Fire and EMS spokesman Steve Lipsher found himself in the middle of the massive pileup Saturday. His Jeep only had minor damage so he got to work making sure everyone else was safe.
“There was a lot of mayhem,” Lipsher told CBS4 Sunday.
It was the perfect storm. Holiday bumper-to-bump traffic, brutal white-out conditions and icy roads.
“After we all crashed, it was just silence. It was a matter of getting out making sure everyone is okay,” Lipsher added.
Sunday, road conditions were not the problem. The sheer number of people on the road forced backups eastbound adding hours to the normal route between Summit County and Denver.
For thousands of travelers caught up in the gridlock, it’s a Thanksgiving weekend they won’t ever forget.