"'Absolutely No Help"

How two drivers found themselves stuck on Lakeshore Drive, and escaped 12-plus hours later

By Lisa Balde
|  Wednesday, Feb 2, 2011  |  Updated 9:06 PM CDT
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Your Photos: Winter Weather

Syed Iqbal

Syed Iqbal took this panoramic photo of Lake Shore Drive at about 3 a.m. on Feb. 2, 2011.

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Full Coverage: Blizzard 2011

When Keon Cummings began his northbound commute from work at boomtownrack.com yesterday evening, he didn't expect it to take 17 hours ... and counting.

Cummings drove onto Lake Shore Drive near Museum Campus around 4:30 p.m. As snow started falling, traffic snarled. By the time he and his fiance reached the North Avenue ramp, all cars were at a standstill.

"We saw firetrucks passing on the other side, but they were just driving by," Cummings said this morning as he waited for a bus near Fullerton, the last leg of his trip home. "There was absolutely no help."

Somewhere down the road, Meg Galus was stuck too.

Galus left work from Delaware and Michigan Avenue at 5:15 p.m. Traffic was slow-going on Lake Shore, but with weather like this, she expected it. She made it to Fullerton an hour and a half later, when all of a sudden, the weather changed.

"It was like something out of a science fiction story," she said. The snow and ice came faster, mixed with thunder. Intense winds shook her car. "I can't explain it. The second you stepped out of your car, you'd be covered head-to-toe with ice."

By 7:15 p.m., all cars stopped. For the next several hours, she waited for a rescue plan that didn't come. She called 311 and finally 911, realizing this was a waiting game. Help was on the way, she just didn't know when.

Cummings and his fiance were waiting too. They left the car running, checking their phones for news on how to get off LSD. They called 311 and got either a busy signal or 15- to 30-minute wait times.

As cars began running out of gas around them, Cummings saw people abandon their cars, some with kids in tow. He and his fiance left their own car around 10:30 p.m. and stayed with her cousin, who thankfully lived nearby.

Galus, however, was still out there. Every 20 to 40 minutes, she saw ambulances and firetrucks headed south on LSD.

Finally at 2:30 a.m., she got a knock on her window from a fireman. She climbed out the passenger side door of her iced-over car and into the back of a battalion SUV -- which got stuck for another hour before two plows dug it out. She was dropped off at a Golden Nugget restaurant and, while waiting for a bus, caught a cab home.

Cummings woke up this morning to find his car being towed off of Lakeshore Drive. He didn't know where. As he waited for a Fullerton bus, he kept calling 311 for more information.

Galus' usually 12-minute commute to Andersonville took her 12 hours. But she's home.

"It was harrowing," she said. "At the end of the day, I knew I was safe."

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