Michiana Jeep Club drives those who can't during the deep freeze - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Michiana Jeep Club drives those who can't during the deep freeze


A group of Jeep owners has turned their hobby into a call of duty.

The Michiana Jeep Club has been tirelessly stepping in to drive doctors and nurses into work, who would otherwise be stuck at home in the snow. This is the club's third year helping Elkhart County Emergency Management get those important people where they need to be.

Last winter, the Michiana Jeep Club only had to help seven people get to work. During this year's deep freeze, the club has already driven nearly 40 people to and from work.

The folks at Elkhart County Emergency Management says the jeep club is a big part of their team, not only with helping drive around those VIP's, but also with being a part of their dispatch team.

Michael Pennington of the Elkhart County Emergency Management says, "They're just a group that has gotten together, they really enjoy their hobby, and they've become an essential part of what we can do during these weather events. And the events of the last couple of days show they're a valued part of this team we put together here in emergency management."

All of the Jeep drivers are unpaid volunteers, and they've picked up people all over Michiana, from Bremen to Granger. The Club has 180 members, and they've been around since 2007.

The Club gets most of its calls from people living out on county roads, so drivers have had to navigate through some pretty tricky spots!

So FOX 28's Faran Fronczak went through a ride-a-long with the President of the Michiana Jeep Club, John Slaytman.

"It's probably the worst year we've seen so far. This is pretty bad," says Slaytman, as he drives through a foot and a half of snow, and that's why he says he owns a  Wrangler. Slaytman says they can get through anything, and they're fun in the summer and capable in the winter.
In the last 48 hours, the club has picked up nearly 40 people -  doctors, nurses, and prison guards - who have to get to work, or the community could face some serious problems.

Slaytman says the group volunteers not only because it's fun, but they also like giving back to the community, and fortunately, while giving back, the Jeep Club guys have managed to stay safe.

"We didn't have anybody get stuck," he says, "but out on the county roads, especially over by the jail were blown over by some big drifts. And the icy roads after the plows did get through were a little discerning."
Slaytman says for the club, safety of the passenger is the number one priority. Juan Glassburn is a member of the club, and this was his first year driving those who needed a ride to work. "We've all been trained to handle our rigs in situations that we were in and that we've been in," says Glassburn.

So if you're out and about, don't be afraid to join the club and say hi to other Jeeps on the road. Slaytman says that's one the premise that helped us start the club... who they wave at. The "Jeep Wave" is the signature move all Jeep owners signal to each other, but Slaytman says its always nice to feel appreciated from other drivers.

Slaytman says if you're a Jeep owner, you're welcome to join the club. They're always looking for volunteers to pick people up in the snow! Click here for the Michiana Jeep Club's website.

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