LSD Officially Cleared of Motorists; Cars Left Behind

Wednesday, Feb 2, 2011  |  Updated 8:37 PM CDT
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Driver Glenn Tylutki explains the decision that ultimately got him stranded in his car on Lake Shore Drive.

Driver Glenn Tylutki explains the decision that ultimately got him stranded in his car on Lake Shore Drive.

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Though officials say Lake Shore Drive has been officially cleared of all motorists, crews continue the daunting task of digging out and towing away the vehicles that were left behind.

At one point, there were hundreds of vehicles, including at least one Chicago Transit Authority bus, stuck on the closed thoroughfare.

Some drivers didn't get to warmth -- and safety -- for nearly 12 hours.

"I was trying not to think about it and that gets kind of hard after 12 hours.. you listen to a lot of music.  I was listening to the radio a lot," said a woman who identified herself as Amanda.

She said she left work at about 3:30 Tuesday afternoon and got stuck about three hours later.

The major roadway that hugs Lake Michigan was shut down to traffic from 67th Street to Hollywood Avenue at about 8 p.m. due to drifting and Lake Effect Snow.

"A lot of brake lights.  I see there's one abandoned car a couple of lanes over but, you know, most people are up and running," motorist Mark Van Veen said at about 10:15 p.m., after being stuck for nearly two hours.

Van Veen said he was stopped just south of the North Avenue exit but hadn't "even inched" in more than two hours.

Another driver, an NBC Chicago employee, said she was stranded on northbound Lake Shore Drive for more than 8.5 hours until the Chicago Fire Department and a bus heading in the opposite direction showed up.

Via email, Gina Labanco said she was escorted over the median wall to the awaiting bus, which ultimately took her to St. Joseph's Hospital.

"Luckily my friend lives across the street and heard her cell phone," she wrote, adding that she was "safe and sound" but without her car.

Labanco said the bus driver told her there were more than 500 cars stranded on the roadway.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications said it had received a number of 911 calls from people stranded in their cars.  Authorities from the police and fire departments, as well as Streets and Sanitation, were working on getting the drivers off the road.

As the road was cleared and drivers were able to move their cars, they were being rerouted onto southbound lanes and exiting onto Chicago Avenue, city spokeswoman Therese Kordelewski said in a news release.

A Route 146 CTA bus was among the stranded vehicles.  It was converted into a warming bus so cold drivers could get out of their cars.

Paramedics worked their way southbound to provide medical assistance to those in need, officials said.

Lake Shore Drive will remain closed until the city’s Department of Streets & Sanitation can clear vehicles and plow and salt the road.

Motorists who have left vehicles should call 311 to recover them.

Update 1:50 a.m. -- NBC Chicago's Alex Perez shot a brief video report with his cell phone:

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