Wanatah offers help to stranded motorists

2010-12-13T14:45:00Z 2010-12-13T22:56:33Z Wanatah offers help to stranded motoristsBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
December 13, 2010 2:45 pm  • 

WANATAH | Monday is typically a day off for Jim Ward, owner of Jimmy's Beef and Pizza along U.S. 30 in Wanatah.

But when he received word that the local volunteer Fire Department had played overnight host Sunday to 30 motorists stranded in the snow along U.S. 30, he did not hesitate to lend a hand by donating burgers and fries.

"The reason we helped out with the Fire Department is that it's the right thing to do," Ward said.

Ward, who was stranded himself at the restaurant with two employees Sunday evening, also made room overnight for two visitors from Taiwan stranded on U.S. 30.

He also opened his doors Monday morning to provide hot coffee to about 20 truckers who had spent the night on the highway.

Other residents in this LaPorte County town also donated food to help make the stay easier for the stranded motorists, said Eric Zak, member of the Cass-Clinton Volunteer Fire Department.

"We just all came together as a group here," he said.

He said the department provided overnight shelter to 30 motorists, 10 of whom were still on site Monday waiting for U.S. 30 to reopen.

More than a dozen officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in four-wheel-drive vehicles and snowmobiles assisted in reaching stranded drivers especially in rural areas near Westville and south toward Wanatah, DNR Conservation Officer Gene Davis said.

Davis said he transported a doctor from his home to LaPorte Hospital in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Among those still waiting Monday afternoon for their car to be removed from a ditch was Chesterton resident Harry Watson.

Watson said he was on his way back from Indianapolis on Sunday night when his car became stuck along U.S. 421, north of U.S. 30. A firefighter came along, and he opted to spend the night at the station rather than risk staying in his car.

"The Fire Department was very apologetic of the accommodations," he said. "They really didn't need to be."

The westbound lanes of U.S. 30 remained closed into Monday afternoon, Zak said.

Times correspondent Stan Maddux contributed to this report.

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