Truckers Stuck on I-95 Show Remarkable Kindness to ‘Tired, Frustrated and Hungry’ Motorists
Fredericksburg, VA — Truckers who were stranded on Interstate 95 in Virginia demonstrated remarkable acts of kindness throughout the more than 24-hour frigid nightmare.
As Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reported, the event began Monday afternoon following a crash involving six tractor-trailers during the first mid-Atlantic storm of 2022, which left over a foot of snow in many areas.
The snowstorm and subsequent crash led to closures of all north and southbound lanes of I-95 between exits 104 (Carmel Church) and 152 (Dumfries Road) and beyond.
One such trucker caught in the standstill traffic was 25-year-old Jean-Carlo Gachet, of Chester, VA.
Gachet, who drives over-the-road for North Chesterfield, VA-based Abilene Motor Express, told TNN he was traveling southbound on I-95 near exit 161 around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning when he found himself caught in the mess.
Seeing reports of motorists who had been stranded since Monday afternoon, Gachet said he elected to take his 10-hour reset and hunkered down there on the interstate.
As the sun rose, Gachet said he took particular note of one passenger vehicle that had been next to him for hours.
He had seen the male driver exit his vehicle a few times to stretch his legs and even walk his dog, and the man’s plight struck a chord with Gachet.
“I was thinking it’s about ten times worse (being stranded) in a car,” Gachet explained. “They don’t have the water, food, or resources truckers do. [Truckers] are out here making a living on the road.”
So he went into the back of his semi and heated up a Jimmy Dean bacon, egg and cheese breakfast bowl and exited his truck to deliver the meal to the man, along with a beverage.
“I walked out with the intention of getting rejected,” Gachet admitted, recognizing the apprehension one might have to a stranger walking up to the window in the middle of an interstate.
“When the door opened, I said, ‘Hey, I made you a hot breakfast, I’m in that truck right behind you, you’ve been here without food and water, so this breakfast and drink is for you,'” he recalled.
Gachet said the man — along with his mother, who was in the passenger seat — were both “shocked” and extremely thankful by the gesture of kindness from the young trucker.
This car has been sitting near me since 1am (I-95 closure). Least I could do was offer them a microwaved breakfast pic.twitter.com/ItA3SKR7pc
— JC (@jcgachet96) January 4, 2022
Only a few miles away, motorist Justin Wilson also found himself stranded in his car, and was parked on the interstate right in front of a semi-truck.
Wilson told Washington D.C.’s FOX affiliate the female driver of the red truck had been in and out of her semi, checking on nearby motorists, knocking on windows and even handing out some much-needed bottled water and food.
“She gave me two donut sticks… she was passing out things to everybody!” he declared. “People have been really, really nice and just helpful.”
Meanwhile, near mile marker 146 in Quantico, Casey Holihan Noe and her husband, John, had been stranded behind a Schmidt Baking Company semi-truck for close to 20 hours.
Noe told TNN she and her husband hadn’t eaten in about 37 hours, and kept making comments to one another about how good the bread photos on the truck looked.
In a now-viral Facebook post, Noe said she was “tired, frustrated, and hungry” when she finally decided to reach out to the 135-year-old, family-owned bread company and ask for help for fellow trapped motorists, many of whom were either elderly or very young.
So she called Schmidt Baking Company and spoke to a representative and explained the situation, but not thinking anything would come of it.
However, Noe said she received an “incredible surprise” about 20 minutes later when Chuck Paterakis, co-owner of H&S Bakery (which operates Schmidt Baking Company) personally returned her call.
Paterakis told TNN the Schmidt semi was headed to its distribution center in Norfolk and happened to be loaded when he received the distress call from Noe.
Paterakis quickly got in contact with the truck’s driver, Ron Hill, and gave his blessing to open the truck and pass out the truck’s contents to motorists in need.
Together, Hill, the Noe’s, along with some others who wanted to help, passed out fresh-baked Schmidt Old Tyme bread and rolls to hungry motorists who “were all incredibly thankful.”
According to Paterakis, the semi-truck was loaded with approximately 8,000 units of rolls and loaves of bread and around 400 were given away Tuesday morning.
Paterakis said the gesture was a no-brainer.
He was taught the value of hard work and giving back to the community by his father, who founded the popular bread company, which once serviced half the McDonald’s in the United States.
“It’s important to give back,” Paterakis stated.
Noe thanked the family-owned bread company for “one of the kindest moments” she’d ever witnessed.
As the sun was setting Tuesday, the Virginia State Police (VSP) called clearing efforts “slow but steady.”
The Fredericksburg division of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) confirmed around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday there were “no people stranded still on I-95,” and “less than 20 vehicles were left to be removed from the interstate before plow trains will come through to remove snow and ice from the travel lanes.”
VSP continued to advise motorists to avoid traveling overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday, and to continue to avoid using I-95 from Caroline County to Prince William County.
Thankfully, no injuries or fatalities were reported, but the nearly-27-hour-ordeal will not soon be forgotten for those who found themselves in it.
And of course, truckers and the trucking industry once again stepped up when the need arose.