WTNH reporter Jacquie Slater and photographer J-P Coleman became part of the story surrounding the recent blizzard that pummeled the Northeast when they got stuck in their news van on the side of a Connecticut interstate.
Slater said the two were trying to get back to the Hartford-New Haven ABC affiliate after a live shot when they got on the highway. “Within two minutes of being on the highway I just had the feeling that this was not going to go well,” Slater told WTNH anchor and host Ann Nyberg on her local show, “Nyberg.”
“So we went around this car and he went to get back on what seemed to be the road,” Slater said. “And then at that point I saw the mile marker to my right and I said, ‘You’re off the road.’ And he said, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘You’re off the road.’”
The two spent more than 10 hours in the news truck where Slater quickly became concerned about the rising snowfall around her. “It was almost too deep. I’m only 5-foot-1, so it was almost too deep for me to walk,” said Slater. “So I was basically stuck in that passenger seat for 10 and a half hours.”
Slater said Coleman made sure the two steered clear of carbon monoxide poisoning while periodically running the car for heat. “He got out. He shoveled around the exhaust and we would keep the car running for about 45 minutes and then we would shut it off. We had snacks. We had some water. But we were stuck in the car for 10 and a half hours. We didn’t drink, we didn’t eat, because you were conserving.”
They did try calling the station and 9-1-1 for help. But, given the amount of people in distress and the worsening conditions, all they got was a welfare check from State Troopers on the highway asking stranded motorists, “Do you have gas? Do you have heat? Is anybody sick? is anybody hurt?”
Eventually, The National Guard showed up and drove the pair, along with several others, to a nearby armory.