Long night

Harry Sullivan
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BIBLE HILL - When Dave Crocker's pickup came to a halt about a kilometer from the Cobequid Pass toll booth Wednesday afternoon he didn't expect to be stopped long.

"There might've been a couple of inches (of snow) on the road," he said. "We thought we'd only be here a few minutes and we'd get going again."

Never in his wildest dreams did Crocker expect it would be more than 14 and-a-half hours before his tires would start to roll again.

In fact, of the approximately 1,500 motorists stranded overnight in area's first "blizzard" of the year, Crocker might be considered one of the more fortunate, given that some were forced to sit idle for as much as 16 hours.

Crocker, who owns Money's Worth Liquidators in Bible Hill, was heading home to Amherst when he got held up in the early part of the traffic jam just before 4 p.m. Knowing the weather was bad, he had planned to just "poke along" with the attitude of 'I'm in no hurry to get home, I just want to get there'.

He had even contemplated taking the old route but decided against it because the twin lanes of the Trans Canada highway provided better options for traveling at his own speed.

"And I've been in worse storms on that highway, that's for sure," he said.

Although he was alone in his vehicle, Crocker had not been stopped long when a friend, who coincidently had stopped directly behind him, came up and tapped on his window. That not only provided a companion to talk to throughout the long night, but it also enabled the pair to move back and forth from each other's vehicles to save on fuel while running their engines to keep warm.

They also had cell phones so they could call home to report that they were okay.

The first couple of hours didn't pass too badly, Crocker said, but somewhere about the five-hour mark he began to wonder about the passengers in other vehicles. With his own belly starting to remind him it was time to eat, he thought about whether there were children or seniors who would be feeling the affects of hunger worse than himself. And what of those with medical complications, such as diabetics?

"As the time wore on, you began to think, 'what if?'" he said. "There wasn't anybody (who) came by to check to see if everybody was okay."

Ironically, a Department of Transportation snowplow was also caught in the traffic about four vehicles back but, it too, was caught up in the snarl.

"It was jam packed. Just lines of them, both lanes full."

Given that difficulty, Crocker believes snowmobiles or ATVs could have been used to pass through the lineup to check for emergency situations.

Sitting in line, no one had a clue what had caused the traffic jam and Crocker also wonders why an emergency broadcast was not aired on the local radio station to let motorists know what was going on.

"Your mind just races, why aren't they doing something?" he said. "As far as we could see ahead of us was red tail lights and as far as we could see behind was headlights."

That was all they knew until he was able to start rolling forward again at 6:23 a.m.

But, despite the "long, frustrating, boring" night he had put in, Crocker still retained enough of a sense of humour to wonder if the motorists would have to pay the regular $4 toll. They didn't.

"They waved us through," he chuckled.

Organizations: Trans Canada, Department of Transportation

Geographic location: Bible Hill, Amherst

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