Pa. authorities guide ambulance through blizzard

The ambulance was transporting a toddler to a hospital

By Kristen de Groot
Associated Press

STROUDSURG, Pa. — A 23-month-old Pennsylvania boy who was escorted by snowplows and state troopers 80 miles to a hospital during the powerful nor'easter was resting comfortably Wednesday after treatment.

Bentley Gingerlowski was born with a rare congenital heart defect, and a low platelet condition caused internal bleeding at the height of Tuesday's blizzard, said his mother, Nicole Gingerlowski.

PennDOT first received the request Tuesday morning. (Photo/Pennsylvania State Police)
PennDOT first received the request Tuesday morning. (Photo/Pennsylvania State Police)

His parents initially took Bentley to a hospital in East Stroudsburg after he started coughing up blood early Tuesday. However, he needed to transfer to Geisinger's Janet Weis Children's Hospital in Danville to see his specialist and get the treatment he needed, she said.

Bentley's heart condition has been treated by Geisinger specialists since he was born there almost two years ago, Geisinger said in a statement.

The hospitals organized the convoy of plows, and the Pennsylvania National Guard, the State Police and emergency vehicles escorted the child along the snowy, slushy roadways.

"It was incredible," she said of the escort. "But at the time you aren't thinking 'Wow, this is all for us.' At the time I'm thinking 'What is going on with my kid? Is my kid going to make it?"

The treacherous roads and her son's condition made for a stressful journey, Gingerlowski said.

The trip, normally an hour and a half, took over three hours as they drove 25 to 30 mph along the highway. She said there was zero visibility at times, and they passed cars abandoned on side of road, tractor trailers in ditches and about 20 big rigs lined up on the roadside, all stuck in the snow.

Three snowplows led the way, as the storm dropped more than two feet along on their path. They were followed by the state troopers, the ambulance carrying Gingerlowski and her son, her husband in their car and ending with two National Guard Hummers, which blocked off lanes so no one could pass them.

"We're very grateful for each and every member of the team," she said.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf erroneously said the boy needed a heart transplant.

Once at the hospital, Bentley received platelets and a heavy dose of steroids to halt the bleeding. He will remain at Geisinger to undergo additional testing, the hospital said.

"He's doing good," Gingerlowski said of her son. "He's a thriving, laughing, giggling, happy child. Nothing brings this kid down."

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