Jay Withey Hailed a Hero for Breaking Into School So Dozens Could Seek Shelter Amid Deadly Buffalo Blizzard

Buffalo Blizzard Hero
Inside Edition

Before he was identified as Jay Withey, he was known simply as "Merry Christmas Jay," as that's how he signed his note apologizing to officials for breaking into the school. "I had to do it to save everyone," he wrote.

It was a desperate plea to the public to identify a man captured in a grainy surveillance camera image, but he wasn't wanted for a crime. He needed to be found to be hailed as a hero! He was dubbed "Merry Christmas Jay" after he helped save dozens of stranded people during the blizzard of the century. 

During the height of the epic blizzard in Buffalo, New York, that claimed so many lives, he broke into the local high school, giving shelter to 24 people.  

He's now been identified 27-year-old Jay Withey. 

“I broke in by breaking a window and there was heat,” he says of his life-saving actions.  

But instead of hunkering down by himself, Withey went back out into the dangerous storm to find others who were desperate for help. Surveillance cameras captured them warming up inside the school 

Withey also broke into the kitchen to make sure everyone had something to eat.  

And when the blizzard let up, the young hero wrote an apology note to school officials.  

“I’m terribly sorry about breaking the school window and for breaking into the kitchen. I had to do it to save everyone and get them shelter and food and a bathroom,” he wrote, signing the letter, “Merry Christmas, Jay.” 

Withey is a humble hero. He didn’t come forward himself. His mother is who identified him, tweeting, “Jay is my son. I am so incredibly proud of him.” 

Withey says the people he rescued are now like family. They’re even planning a reunion but intend for it to take place in the summer, when there’s no chance of snow.

Related Stories