This Canadian Man Drove an American Family Over 1,000 Miles to Alaska After They Were Stranded in a Snowstorm

A heartwarming story from the freezing cold of Canada.

'Welcome to Alaska' sign
Photo: DESPITE STRAIGHT LINES/Paul Williams via Getty

In the fall of 2020, Lynn Marchessault, an American living in Georgia, made plans to drive her children and the family pets all the way from their southern state to Alaska to be with her husband, a staff sergeant stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks. However, it seemed as though COVID-19, mother nature, and Canada's government had other plans.

As Marchessault explained to CNN, she conducted all the right steps to ensure she obtained the proper paperwork to cross through Canada to get to the U.S.'s northernmost state. But, the process took much longer than anticipated, and rather than depart in the fall, Marchessault and her children had to push their plans to November, right as the weather in Canada began to turn.

Undeterred, the group stayed optimistic. For the first 3,000 miles, she said, the weather held, and the group made excellent time. However, per Canada's 2020 entry requirements, the family was given just days to cross the country before they would violate COVID-19 rules and be forced to turn back.

And that's when all winter hell broke loose.

At some point further north, the family encountered a whiteout storm. At the same time, her tires appeared to lose traction, and she used up the last of her window washer fluid. So, she pulled off the road and into a gas station where she began to weep while standing outside her car.

"My kids had to go to the restroom, they put their masks on, so I was out at the vehicle," she shared with CNN. "I'm a complete wreck — I was crying at this point — and a woman came out of the gas station. She says, 'Are you okay?'" Marchessault let it all out to the stranger, who then informed her she had summer, not winter tires. So, the kind stranger took her to a tire store to get her car outfitted with the correct gear. Then, she did something even kinder. The stranger took to Facebook to find a local willing to drive the family the rest of the way to their destination, some 1,000 miles up the road.

To the family's surprise, someone answered the call.

That someone was Gary Bath, a Canadian ranger who previously trained Canadian military members to survive the Arctic. "I didn't care how far it was. I just knew they needed help and they had a few short days to hit the border before they were going to get in trouble," Bath told CBC.

"I had to make the hard choice — were my children safer in my own hands in these conditions, or in the hands of a kind stranger who was willing to get us to where we needed to be, safely," Marchessault added.

So Marchessault went with her gut and handed the keys to Bath. They all hopped in the car and made it the rest of the way without event. Now, all that's left is a fond memory and lifelong friends. "We just clicked from the get-go," Marchessault told CNN. "Just like old friends. It was a really nice drive. He deserves all the credit. He's a good guy."

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