WENATCHEE — Three Wenatchee School District bus drivers came to the rescue of nearly 150 stranded Amtrak passengers and crew Thursday evening.

The 145 passengers and crew were on board a Chicago-to-Seattle train that stopped in Wenatchee after record-breaking snow kept it from getting over the Cascade Mountains.

After about 10 hours of waiting, Superintendent Paul Gordon received a call around 7 p.m. for assistance.

Jenn Sea, Wenatchee’s transportation director, arrived at the district’s bus barn just after 8 p.m. to prep the buses. The three drivers she enlisted, Rick Pepin, Don Talbot, and Todd Davidson, all live close by.

Kory Blankenship, the district’s lead mechanic, had the buses pulled out and prepped by the time the drivers and Sea arrived.

The first bus left for Columbia Station at 8:45 p.m. and by 9:20 p.m. all passengers and crew had left the station for nearby hotels. Sea said everyone arrived at their hotels by about 9:30 p.m.

Sea described the three drivers and Blankenship as “total, unselfish heroes willing to step up for their community.” One driver, Davidson, insisted on clearing snow off his car to assist the effort.

“I said “oh, I’ll just call someone else’ and he goes ‘no, I want to do this for them,” Sea said. “They felt very honored to be called.

Davidson said snow remained somewhat of an obstacle despite plowed streets.

“The toughest part was honestly just maneuvering around the city,” he said. “With a 40-foot bus, you need wide turns.”

The three drivers worked to find streets wide enough to drive, and Davidson said the passengers appreciated the effort.

“I was telling my wife there’s still a lot of cool people out there,” he said, “even though they’ve been sitting on a train for 10 hours and they don’t know when they’re getting home.”

Friday morning, the Amtrak train and its passengers were still waiting in Wenatchee for the tracks to be cleared. The train was gone later Friday.

Mitchell Roland: (509)-661-5201

roland@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter @roland_mitchell

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