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UPDATE: Stranded bus of students on PA turnpike headed back home but remained in high spirits when stuck

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Fargo, ND (WDAY/WDAZ TV) - A group of 34 students from the Fargo-Moorhead area on the road again -- after being stranded on a bus for nearly an entire day -- as they were trying to come back from an anti-abortion rally in D.C.

The bus was stuck on a Pennsylvania turnpike after feet of snow and blustery conditions caused multiple semis to jack-knife and block the road.

WDAY reached out to chaperones and students on the bus to see how they were feeling after roughly 23 hours of standing still on an east coast highway.

Temps are low.

"We're hanging in there," said Jeff Benda.

But spirits are high.

"It's great because we have a great group of teenagers. They haven't turned on us yet, and I think that's because we have wi-fi, and we have movies. And as long as we have that going for us, we are doing ok," said Benda.

It all started last night around 6 our time when the Pennsylvania turnpike was blocked, stranding hundreds from the Bismarck and St. Paul area, who then held a roadside mass.

"We have fun with it, and I think the big joke among the kids is when people from other states are freaking out about the snow, is that we are from North Dakota and we're used to it," said Benda.

The bus had enough gas to keep running and volunteers came and brought them some sandwiches and pizza, which they rationed.

"The kids spirits are high, they had an amazing experience at March for Life, and they got to be a part of that, and so I think just coming home we had planned to be home on Saturday night, but now as long as we are home before school, we're all good,” said Benda.

Many of the students have few complaints.

"The adventure we've been having, I've honestly been having more fun here. I've honestly never had this much fun of being on a bus for 20 hours in a row now," said Megan Badinger.

42 people, 23 hours, 1 bus stuck on a turnpike, and a winter weather story that can now rival the best of them.

The group is expected to be back in Fargo between 3 and 4 tomorrow afternoon.

Many of them had to miss, the ironically named, Blizzard ball, back at school Saturday.


The bus full of students is on the road back to Fargo.

They had to turn around and plan a different route.

They expect to get back into Fargo Sunday around 2 in the afternoon.


Bedford, PA (WDAY TV) - A group of 34 teens and 6 adult chaperones from Fargo are stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The group traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the "March of Life" anti-abortion rally.  They became stranded Friday night around 8 p.m. after multiple semis jack-knifed in front of them, completely blocking the road.

Jeff Benda, Youth Director at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, says they're stranded in the westbound lane of I-70/I-76 just West of Bedford, PA.  The accident took place a few miles ahead of them near the Allegheny Tunnel.  He says his group is doing fine, playing games and conserving their food as time goes by.

Emergency services have been bringing water to the group.  A hotline has been set up to provide gas to vehicles that may be running out as well as food and water.  Benda says their bus filled-up with fuel right before taking off.

One lane of traffic has been cleared off allowing cars to pass through, but no semis or buses are able to pass.

Benda says officials have not told them when they'll be clear to move ahead.  Responders continue to work in order to resolve the standstill traffic.  Benda says thousands of vehicles are stranded, but they are towards the front of the pack stopped under a bridge.

The group consists of members from Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Saints Anne & Joachim Catholic Church in Fargo and Saint Leo Catholic Church in Casselton.

We'll bring you more information as it becomes available.

WDAY News is an award-winning news organization that has been broadcasting in the Red River Valley since June of 1953. 
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