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December 23, 2022 - 10:46pm

County Highway crews heading to Route 77 in Alabama to try and rescue stranded drivers in whiteout conditions


With a high degree of concern for people trapped in their cars in the area of Route 77 and Judge Road, County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, along with three county highway personnel driving three heavy loaders/plow trucks, are leaving Batavia in an attempt to rescue them.

No other emergency personnel in fire trucks, rescue trucks, or patrol cars have been able to reach them.

"I've got three highway guys putting their lives at risk, my life at risk, to try and save them, but I would feel bad if we didn't try," Hens said.

Hens was just leaving the City of Batavia, driving behind the highway trucks and said visibility was already down to nearly zero. He passed a semi-truck stuck in the snow in front of Tops.  There was about a foot of snow in that location.

Deputies have reported drifts of snow as high as five feet surrounding the cars that are stuck in Alabama.

"We have a pretty high level of concern," Hens said. "Some people have been out there nine, 10 hours. I know there are people who are hypothermic at this point.  I'm not sure we will be able to reach them.  It's just such bad visibility. I'm not even sure we will be able to get there, to be honest."

There has been a heavy, large lake-effect snow band stretching from Lake Erie into Alabama and Oakfield all day.  The National Weather Service reports it is likely to be in place until at least midnight.

"It might be there until midnight tomorrow," Hens said. "This storm is going to revival '77 in its intensity.  It's maybe not as wide or as broad but for people under the snow band, it will be."

Photo: File photo of Tim Hens from 2018 at Genesee County Legislature meeting.

UPDATE: here's a four-second video from Tim Hens showing conditions on the road to Alabama.

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