Ontario blizzard strands hundreds of drivers

| 12/14/2010

As of noon on Tuesday, Dec. 14, an estimated 200 people – both truckers and four-wheelers – were still stranded on a 50-mile stretch of Highway 402 in Southern Ontario. A total of 300 were caught in blizzard conditions and impassable drifts overnight on the stretch of highway between Sarnia and London.

Ontario Provincial Police constable Liz Melvin says about one-third of those stranded had been rescued by noon on Tuesday and none appeared to have suffered any injuries.

Melvin says two military helicopters were assisting in the rescue operation.

“We are remaining vigilant in resolving to get the stranded motorists to safety. When they are removed from their vehicles, they are being taken to warming centers in Lambton County. There’s one in Middlesex County as well and they’re being assessed there,” Melvin told Land Line Now on Sirius XM.

“We are experiencing deep snow and visibility issues. Some of the roads are impassible, which is hampering our rescue efforts, but we will get to everyone. And we’re realizing that it’s a stressful situation that they’re in.”

She said critical incident responders are in contact with some of the motorists by phone to keep them calm.

The 402 remained closed between Sarnia and London on Tuesday. Melvin said the radar showed more snowfall was expected in the London area.

“We’re asking and encouraging people to stay home if they don’t need to travel,” she said.

Truckers were among those using social media to inform people of their whereabouts and status during the storm.

Trucker Lee Ingratta of Gravenhurst, Ontario, posted Tuesday morning on Facebook that he was among those stranded overnight. Others assured him that help was on the way.