One man from Buffalo, New York, is being hailed a hero after he rescued twenty-four people from the “blizzard of the century” as snow fell down hard on the major city in Upstate New York. The hero, 27-year-old Jay Withey, feared for his life and the lives of other people when snow began to fall from the sky and threatened to trap him inside his car in a tomb of frigid snow.

Withey had been forced to sleep with two strangers after his truck got stuck in the snow. The Buffalo area was bombarded with more than fifty inches of snow in what many people are calling a blizzard of the century. Withey left his truck behind in order to seek shelter but did not find any place to stay during the horrible storm. He returned to his truck and promptly ran out of gas, which was his only lifeline to stay warm during the blizzard.

Instead of allowing the cold to kill him, Withey found other people who were also stranded and came up with an idea to rescue them all. He found that other people needed his help, so he came up with a solution that ended up saving twenty-four people from the blizzard.

Withey, who has since been nicknamed “Merry Christmas Jay,” found dozens of other people, including seven senior citizens, who were stuck in the blizzard. He managed to break into a nearby school, where he and his crew were able to wait out the blizzard and survive the frigid temperatures.

“I walked to the houses to see if I could find shelter, any house that had lights on. I had $500 that I was offering to sleep on their floor,” Withey told WBEN. “It’s the only time in my life I actually thought I was going to die.”

Withey’s truck ran out of gas on Christmas Eve at 6 am. This forced him and the other people he rescued to break into the Pine Hill Primary Center, which was an educational institute for children.

“Off to the left, I could see there was a school about 600-700 feet away from us. I knew the power would be on, there would be heat in there, and I was guaranteeing there would be food in there,” the hero said.

The Cheektowaga Police Department reported that Withey and his cohorts set up a camp in the cafeteria of the school in a very respectful manner. Nevertheless, they helped themselves to the food at the school to survive in the school while the blizzard raged outside.

On Christmas Day, “Merry Christmas Jay” found the school’s snowblower and used it to shovel a path through the snow so the people he rescued could return to their homes in the area. Before leaving the school, Withey fixed the window he used to break in with cardboard and duct tape and left a note to explain what happened.

“I had to do it to save everyone and get them shelter and food and a bathroom. Merry Christmas, Jay.”

Authorities shared a tweet thanking Withey for his “heroic actions” that saved the lives of twenty-four people in the Buffalo blizzard.