WADSWORTH, Ohio — Pushing and grunting. Slipping and sliding. That was the story of the shift—over and over again— for Wadsworth police early Monday morning.
With heavy snow falling and winds howling, Officers Rachel Durbin and Dakota Lamielle barely had time to rest. Eventually, the Medina County city was dealing with about a foot of snow.
"It definitely weather-wise was for sure the craziest that I've worked. I haven't worked a snowstorm like this yet," Durbin said.
Calls poured in from people who had slid off the roads and got stuck. But in many cases, the officers simply came across stranded motorists all over town. Durbin said it started to get especially nasty around 2 a.m.
"Every single car that we would come across was most likely stuck in some capacity," Durbin said.
Wadsworth police released body camera videos showing the officers pushing multiple drivers out of snowdrifts. The officers worked to free at least 10 cars.
Durbin said she also used a snow shovel to dig around the tires of stuck vehicles.
"We were just pushing the cars out by hand, so sometimes that took like rocking the cars back and forth to get some traction," she said.
The intensity level of the roadside rescues went up a notch when the officers spotted 30-year-old Larry Ross stuck in the middle of Water Street near Main Street in his wheelchair.
Ross, who was born without legs, was trying to make his way back home after a night out with friends and was surprised by how quickly the snow-covered up sidewalks and streets.
"I was kind of stuck," Ross said. "I was trying to make it up the Water Street hill, and about 45 minutes later, the cops pulled up and I was grateful."
The officers helped get Ross and his wheelchair into a cruiser. They drove Ross home to make sure he was safe. Body camera video shows Officer Lamielle pushing the double-amputee over snow-covered sidewalks and to his back door.
In the video, Ross can be heard saying, "Thank you."
Lamielle responded, "Not a problem." Durbin then quickly joked in reference to her partner, "He got his workout in. We're good."
Wadsworth Police Chief Dan Chafin praised the officers for their hard and dangerous work during one of the worst storms in recent history.
"I think it's just reflective of who they are as individuals. They're good officers, but they're good people. They signed up for this work because they want to help people," Chafin said.
Ross realizes the experience could have ended much worse with a case of frostbite or possibly getting hit by a sliding car. He was never so happy to see police officers.
"It was a blessing," he said. "That was awesome. It was outstanding."
As for the snow heroes in blue, it was all in a night's work even if it was a night shift like they've never seen.
"All-in-all, it was a great night. We were able to help a lot of people, keep a lot of people safe," Durbin said.