By ADAM BEAM, Associated Press
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — What was supposed to be a relaxing weekend in Tennessee for Alexx and Kate Bragg turned into a grueling night of frozen gridlock along one of the country’s busiest interstate highways.
Hundreds of drivers were stuck on I-75 overnight after a massive winter storm dumped more than a foot of snow in south central Kentucky, clogging cars and causing multiple crashes that created a 30-mile stretch of shivering passengers. By 9 a.m. Saturday, I-75 had been cleared and traffic was moving — albeit slowly.
Kate Bragg was one of the stuck motorists, spending most of the night at mile marker 59 between Livingston and Mount Vernon. She and her husband, Alexx, are from Indiana and were on their way to Tennessee for a getaway weekend when they got stuck. For hours, the only people they saw were salt truck drivers begging motorists to move over so they could exit, refuel and hopefully help clear the roads. At one point, Alexx Bragg tucked in behind a salt truck and followed it on the shoulder, only to get stuck again.
“We are worried because we are from Indiana, have no concept of where we are and no idea when to anticipate getting out,” Bragg told The Associated Press in an electronic message using Twitter.
Kentucky officials set up shelters for stranded motorists at churches and public schools along the Interstate, but the Braggs were too far away and could not make it to them.
“Emotional breaking point coupled with exhaustion has been met,” Kate Bragg tweeted just after 11 p.m. after spending about eight hours on the highway, later adding: “Sleeping on the interstate… Don’t they normally caution against this?”
Kate Bragg posted on Twitter that the couple finally got off the interstate at about 2:30 a.m., using online mapping services to find a way around the clogged interstate using side roads that had been plowed.
Traffic was slowly moving slowly Saturday along the 30-mile stretch, from Berea to London, according to Buddy Rogers, spokesman for Kentucky Emergency Management. About 65 people had taken shelter at the West London Baptist Church Saturday morning, according to Jenny Saylor with the Lily Volunteer Fire Department.
“They’re pretty tired, but content,” she said. “We’ve got them food and drinks and we’re taking care of them pretty good.”
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