By Jim DeFede

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Stranded on Interstate 95, just south of Quantico, Virginia, day turned to night and night back into day.

For more than eighteen hours I sat in my car trapped along with thousands of other motorists after nearly 50 miles of the interstate were shut down due to a snowstorm and the ensuing incompetence of state government to clear the roads.

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As I wondered how long I would be there, and whether I would run out of gas, I watched as a man in a sweatshirt ambled up the icy highway, carrying loaves of bread.

“Me and my wife have been sitting behind a Schmidt Baking truck, she contacted them, told them the situation, and the owner of the truck told the driver to open it up and start handing food out to people,” he said. “Just trying to help out.”

The man’s name is John Noe. His wife is Casey Holihan. And the truck driver is Ron Hill, a disabled veteran.

After posting a video of John on Twitter, the story of the Good Samaritans and the bread truck went viral.

Here is the story behind what happened:

John and Casey were driving from Maryland to North Carolina to say goodbye to family, as John, who is in the Air Force, was being transferred to a base in Germany. They set off early Monday morning, hoping to avoid the snowstorm, but ended up being stuck in it.

“I think I slept with my boots and seatbelt on that night,” Casey told me. “But like anybody who was on that road knows that that night was not very restful. And so the morning we were still starving, we were still thirsty so we walked into town to see if we could buy anything. We don’t normally just go calling companies and begging for food, but we couldn’t find anything. The entire town was out of power, but we just kind of had seen this truck, and he kind of made a joke to me about, Oh, how incredible, what a loaf of bread be right now.”

“Those pictures on the back of the bread truck were just pure torture,” Casey told me with a laugh.

Casey decided to call the customer service number on the side of the bread truck from Schmidt Bakeries, which is owned by the H&S Family of Bakeries based in Maryland.

Eventually, with the help of her mother who was also emailing the company, she was connected to Chuck Paterakis, one of the owners of the company who oversees transportation.

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“They’re calling in that they’re hungry, and if the truck had any bread on the truck could we be allowed to open it and hand out so we could feed people? It’s probably one of the strangest requests I have ever received,” Chuck said, adding his company has done a lot of work donating bread to various charities, especially during the pandemic.

He agreed to open the truck but needed to speak to the driver, Ron.

“And next thing I know I’m sitting in my front seat,” Ron recalls, “and Casey comes up to the side and I’m watching, and I’m thinking, `Who is this lady walking on this ice?’ She’s walking, looking over at me, and I’m looking at her in my side-view mirror, trying to figure out if she stopping here, does she need some help or something. So when she stopped, I rolled my window down and I said hello. She said, hello. I have Schmidt Bakery on the phone, Chuck.”

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Chuck asked how Ron was doing and asked if he thought it was safe to open the back of the truck and hand out bread. Ron said it should be fine and the three of them – Ron, Casey, and John – set off in different directions up and down the highway with armfuls of bread.

“I was glad I was able to help,” Ron said.

“Everyone that we were able to reach was very thankful,” John said. “There were some families who had small children who were having an even rougher time because most people probably got on I-95 expecting a 15-to-20-minute drive. And here we all are some twenty-four hours later. And then everyone was really receptive. Some of the people near the truck, as soon as they saw what we were doing, hopped out and started helping as well. And everyone just kind of came together.”

Casey said the potato rolls she ate herself were the best food she thinks she’s ever eaten.

All of those involved said the lesson from I-95 is that even in a crisis the best of people can still shine through.

“You have to do the right thing,” said Ron. “You have to treat people the way you want to be treated. So being out there give and it shall be given back to you. That’s how I look at it. I try to be nice to all mankind, regardless of any situation. If I’m able to help, I’m helping.”

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“And the one thing that we just keep talking about, we just took away from this whole experience was that humanity prevails over everything,” Casey added. “We might have been having road rage a couple of hours earlier or people might have been a little grumpy or in a really tough situation. But regardless, just the people around us are incredible, and you can always find humanity in even the most dark situations.”

Jim DeFede