MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some Minnesota students found out first-hand what it was like to be stuck in that East Coast blizzard.

About 200 teenagers from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis traveled to Washington D.C. this week for a pro-life rally. They got stuck on a turnpike coming back, for nearly 23 hours.

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“We heard there was going to be a blizzard and we knew there were consequences, but we were like, we’re going to stay,” 18-year-old AnnMarie Kalb said.

And for a while, it seemed like they’d dodged a bullet. The buses packed with Minnesota teenagers left Washington without problem. But when they hit Interstate 76 near Breezewood, Pennsylvania on Friday night, they got stuck.

“We had each other. Twenty-two hours on the turnpike,” Kalb said.

(credit: Kiera Wilson)

(credit: Kiera Wilson)

An accident further up the turnpike meant AnnMarie and all the other passengers could do nothing but watch movies, eat snacks and drink the bottled water the National Guard brought them. For AnnMarie’s mom back home, the waiting was nerve-racking.

“Initially I wasn’t worried. I realized they were with teachers and chaperones who were on the bus. As time wore on I got more emotional,” Beth Kalb said.

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Finally, after nearly a day of sitting in one spot, the accident was cleared and the buses began moving again.

“Living in Minnesota, we have an idea of what it’s like. But it’s shocking to see it on the news and see what everybody’s dealing with,” Kim McCormick, whose son Zach was on one of the buses, said.

It took another 16 hours to get home. Thankfully, Sunday afternoon they all arrived safely at St. Paul Cathedral.

“It’s so great. It’s awesome. I’m excited to shower. I’m excited to sleep in my own bed tonight,” 17-year-old Kiera Wilson said.

So is lead bus driver Bob Hart. He’s never experienced that before, and hopes he never has to again.

“It feels good to be home. It feels great to be home. I’m glad I got the kids home safe to their families. A lot of parents said thank you to me. A lot of hugs,” Hart said.

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The students all attended a special church service at the Cathedral after they returned home.

John Lauritsen