SOMERSET, PENNSYLVANIA — Traffic is common on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but being stuck 19 hours in the same place is a little different.
“I don’t think anyone really knew what was going on,” Father Ken Geraci, the trip leader, said. “I just think it was one of those things where they were totally unprepared.”
Geraci, 37 students from Owensboro Catholic High and a group of chaperones were driving back from the March for Life in Washington, D.C. to a hotel in Pennsylvania when traffic came to a halt Friday afternoon around 7:30 p.m.
“We weren’t expecting anything bad,” Emily Linn, one of the students on the trip, said. “We thought we were just going to be stuck for a little bit because we were kind of stuck in and out of traffic for a long time.”
But the traffic didn’t pick up again. And as the hours crawled by, the students realized they were stuck.
“We didn’t really freak out, but we’re kind of scared because we all just want to go home really,” Linn said.
“These young adults, they really held themselves and they were really upbeat,” Geraci said. “They came and started singing karaoke on the mic of the coach and making up songs and really trying to keep it positive.”
The group even took time to help others stranded on the road.
“A handful of us went out and knocked on windows,” Geraci said. “One of the nurses came with us and it was her idea to look for people who might be diabetic. And so we really got to live that missionary spirit here to just look out for our neighbors.”
Finally, 19 hours later, the road was finally cleared and the wheels on the bus started rolling again.
“Beautiful, amazing, the best feeling ever,” Lin said. “We all started screaming. We’re all super excited.”
“This is the best of a bad situation,” Geraci said.