DANVILLE (KDKA) — The conditions were the stuff of plow drivers’ nightmares.
“It was blizzardy, a lot of snow coming down it was hard to see,” driver Ray Montemurro said.
“There was a lot more snow out there than I’ve ever seen before,” driver Michael Emery said.
In the middle of it all, as Allegheny County crews worked in unfamiliar areas, came the call that 23-month-old Bentley Gingerlowski, a child with a congenital heart defect was bleeding internally.
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He needed to get from East Stroudsburg to Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, 80 miles down Interstate 80.
“The second we got the call, my guys were more than happy to join in and do what we needed to do,” Assistant Maintenance Manager Kevin Chatary said.
Richard Staub and Charles Smokey Robinson drove the lead plow.
“The snow was coming down hard, the wind was blowing in blizzard conditions,” Staub said.
“It was bad, it was snowing real bad, you couldn’t see out the windshield ’cause they was all frozen up,” Robinson said.
“The windshield kept shrinking, you’re putting your chin on the steering wheel, and the ambulance stopped twice to clear her windshield, she couldn’t see,” Staub said.
“We were lucky if we were doing 15-20 mph the whole time,” Chatary said.
With the trucks leading the way, state police then the ambulance, the Gingerlowski family and then the National Guard. They plowed on as the snow fell 2-3 inches an hour.
“And all we could think of, Smokey and I, was getting this child to the hospital,” Staub said.
And they did, where little Bentley got the procedures and care he needed.
“It’s unbelievable, I am so proud and so is Gov. Wolf of how our employees rose to the occasion,” Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards said.
Today, the crews were recognized in front of their peers, but it’s the smiles of Bentley and his parents they find most rewarding.