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Stranded Newton man 'ready to be home'

COVINGTON — Newton County resident Jacob Eastman was longing for the four-wheel drive vehicle he has at home Wednesday morning as he sat in his company SUV, stranded on Ga. Highway 212 in DeKalb County.

Eastman, 31, who lives with his wife, Stephanie, in the Butler Bridge Road area of Newton County, had been stranded on the roadways for 17 hours when he spoke with the Citizen by cell phone Wednesday morning. He’d had nothing to eat or drink during that time, and little to no sleep.

Eastman said he was headed home about 4 p.m. Tuesday from work in Alpharetta when he first became stranded in his company’s small SUV on Interstate 285. He said it took him nine hours to go from Exit 10 to Exit 4, with stranded vehicles all over the roadway.

Eastman said he saw no evidence that transportation officials in metro Atlanta had tried to prepare for the coming snow and ice.

“They knew it was coming and none of the roads had been salted,” he said. “They did nothing. … There was not a single salt truck on the interstate.”

Luckily, Eastman had filled up his SUV with gas Tuesday morning and was able to keep his cell phone charged.

“I’ve got a little less than half a tank now,” he said Wednesday, “and I’ve only gone about 40 miles.”

Overnight Eastman said he tried to get some sleep in the car, but it was difficult with the lights and horns of other vehicles. He said he was awakened at about 5:30 Wednesday morning by officers with the Georgia National Guard.

“They were knocking on windows this morning, but they didn’t have anything with them,” he said. “They didn’t have any blankets or water; they were just asking if people were OK.”

Throughout the night Eastman said he passed by a school bus that had hit six cars; he saw numerous tractor trailer trucks spin out and block the roadway.

“That’s the thing,” he said. “Once a semi gets going, they’ve got traction, but getting going is a problem. They kept spinning out and jack-knifing.”

Eastman said he was able to make some progress and reach Ga.Highway 212 in DeKalb County Wednesday morning, but once there, he encountered another obstacle on the two-lane road. He described Ga. 212 as a “solid ice rink.”

“Everybody’s spun out; I can see probably 23 or 24 cars right in front of me spun out.”

Eastman said his vehicle had also skidded across the road. He was stuck next to a Clayton County Police patrol car. At that point, he said, he wasn’t sure how he would get going again.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I’m really tempted to walk. I’m so ready to be home.”