Women’s gymnastics team snowed in on PA turnpike

Coach Umme Salim-Beasley and her team have been stuck on the Pennsylvania turnpike 80 miles east of Pittsburgh since Friday at 6 p.m.

UPDATE: According to the team’s Twitter account, the women’s gymnasitcs’ team bus is “on the move.” Coach Umme Salim-Beasley said the team was headed an hour west toward Somerset, Pennsylvania where it would stay the night and reassess the situation in the morning.

“The plan is to move the barriers in between the two sections of the turnpike and have us go up the wrong direction toward Somerset, Pennsylvania,” Salim-Beasley told The Temple News around 8:20 p.m. on Saturday. “It looks like they’re taking steps to do that. We see a lot of plows and police cars. And it looks like there’s some machinery to be able to remove the barriers. It looks like we’ll be moving here at some point soon.”

“We are going to reassess in the morning what the road conditions are like, and then we will decide whether we are leaving tomorrow or staying an additional day,” she added.

The team was stuck in the same location about 15 miles past Bedford, Pennsylvania for more than 24 hours. The bus remained heated the entire time and had about half a tank of gas left before it was rescued from the snow according to Salim-Beasley.

“Luckily for us we have a very fuel-efficient bus,” Salim-Beasley said. “At this point we’re at a little more than half a tank. We’ve had heat this whole time. We’ve been able to watch movies, and we have access to a bathroom on the bus, so that was extremely helpful. There are a lot of people who are out on the street that don’t have those same accommodations, so we’ve been in pretty good shape.”

The women’s gymnastics team has been stuck on the Pennsylvania turnpike since 6 p.m. on Friday.

The team was stopped in traffic and eventually snowed in on its way to a competition at the University of Pittsburgh, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday.

“We actually didn’t hit snow until we were about 2 hours outside of Pittsburgh,” coach Umme Salim-Beasley said. “It was 6 o’clock. Maybe there were two inches on the road, but the roads hadn’t been treated. … You could see the cars were slipping and sliding, and ultimately an accident happened, and we got stuck.”

The team is 80 miles east of Pittsburgh on the Pennsylvania turnpike and 15 miles past Bedford, Pennsylvania according to Salim-Beasley.

Along with the first-year coach, there are 16 athletes, two assistant coaches and the team’s athletic trainer on the bus, the Inquirer reported.

The team has food, which was packed on the bus for the Owls’ weekend trip. In addition, the fire department continues to bring water for the team. The report also noted the bus is heated and has around 3/4 of its gas tank full.

“They’re doing just fine,” Salim-Beasley said. “Some of them are getting studying in. We’ve got movies going. Some of them were singing earlier. We were playing cards. So we’re getting through it pretty well. No one’s distressed.”

While the fire department has kept the team updated, Salim-Beasley said around 1 p.m. that there was currently no status on when the team will be able to get on the road again.

“Not at all,” Salim-Beasley said. “ We have been stuck in the same spot, and every single time the fire department comes over, we’ve gotten a different news of how things were going. The last we heard was the National Guard was going to come by to dig people out, but we haven’t seen them at all or snow plows.”

The Owls will not compete in what was originally supposed to be a quad meet at Pittsburgh. George Washington University will also miss the meet due to the weather. However, Pittsburgh and the University of New Hampshire will still compete in a dual meet according to a tweet from Pittsburgh Gymnastics’ twitter account.

Owen McCue can be reached at owen.mccue@temple.edu or on Twitter @Owen_McCue

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