Stranded drivers spend the night at nearby gas stations, sleeping in their cars

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 12:26 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2022 at 12:27 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It was not a night Carol Young had imagined for herself, or for her son. They had left Little River, South Carolina early Monday morning at 7:00 a.m. and by the end of the night found themselves sleeping their car in a Ruther Glen’s Love gas station.

“I’ve never had to do this before, would never do this to my son,” Carol Young said.

“We were expecting some delays of course because of all of the snow, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Carol Young said they ran into trouble as soon as they crossed into Virginia. Traffic started picking up until eventually there was nowhere else to go. She took the closest exit she could find, Carmel Church Street, and then tried unsuccessfully to find a place to stay.

“Every hotel said they were booked, we kept driving but couldn’t find anything,” said Zachary Young.

With no choice, the duo spent the night in their car. Turning off the heat every two hours so they didn’t run out of gas. It was a similar scene all across the gas station - as countless people pulled in with stories of their own.

“I went down to South Carolina for New Year’s and when I was driving back up I just saw this wall of red lights,” said Dan Krauss, who was stranded for several hours. “People were blocking the shoulder and so there was no way to get out of there I was actually only a quarter of a mile away from this exit when I hit that traffic.”

Those stranded spent the night swapping stories of where they were headed, and jumper cables for the cars whose batteries had died. Some spent the night planning their return back south, others played a waiting game to see when the ramps would open up again.

“It’s not something I’m going to forget, and hopefully it’s something I won’t have to live again,” Carol Young said.

VDOT has still not opened any of the ramps to I-95 but said they are working to clear the roadways and remove stranded cars as quickly as they can.

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