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Stranded Motorist On Hand For Wedding

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More than 250 people stranded on US23 and 1-94 were rescued by the Washtenaw County Sheriffs Department Saturday night during the heaviest area snow storm in nearly a century. Most of them were on hand for the wedding. At 1 p.m. Sunday, 15th District Court Judge Pieter" Thomassen married Roger Dempsey and Sandy Vardinakis, both of - Toledo, in a very special service at the County Service Center. There was a cake and the wedding party wore gowns and tuxedoes and flowers were taped to the cinderblock walls of the service center gymnasium. Only the portable organ failed to arrive. Roger Dempsey and Sandy Vardinakis had planned a wonderful wedding. They es were to be married in the little brick Baptist Church on Dentón Street near Ypsilanti. The family had worshipped there for years, driving up from Toledo for services, and Roger had wanted to be married there. They set out early Saturday afternoon from the Dempsey family home at 427 Oregon Rd. in Toledo. Fifteen relatives packed themselves into three cars with the bride and groom and the party headed north on U.S. 23 into the driving, heavy snow. Hours later they were blocked finally by two empty automobile carrier rigs which had become stuck side by side a mile north of the U.S. 12 exit. The gloomy family had already missed the reception planned back in Toledo as sheriff's tical Mobile Unit bus stopped to rescueH them. The drab gray buses, which former I Sheriff Douglas J. Harvey had o n c e pressed into service to quell student protesters in 1968 and 1970, were among the few vehicles which moved through the I foot-deep wet s n o w. Sheriff Frederick Postill systematically rescued hundreds of stalled motorists from the freeways and brought them to warmth and safety in the service center gymnasium, where the Red Cross was providing I es, donuts, coffee and tea. The Dempsey wedding party was I tered but safe. H Zeke Jabbour of 4115 Clark Rd., a I friend of the sheriff, learried of the I ily's disappointment and promised them I a wedding. i ■■■MMiimmnnraw W Jabbou: telephoned Judge Thomassen I and persuaded him to drive through the I heavy snow to perform a civil ceremony. I Then Jabbour hurried home to bring I back a cike he had. Meanwhile, freelance photographer I Andrew Pearch of 3493 Braeburn Court, I traveled by foot, by car and finally by I snowmobile to take wedding portraits I after Jabbour had called him. A portable organ was ordered. But the I Dempsey family wanted to retrieve the I wedding gowns and tuxedoes locked in I their automobiles out on U.S. 23. Sheriff I Postill at first offered to send a deputy, I but reneged íater as emergency medical I calis flooded his switchboard. Lawry Dolph, executive manager of I Michigan Cabie TV Associates, and Cable 3 newsman Larry Randa offered to try for the clothes. The wedding was delayed as Dolpli and Randa set out with Roy Dempsey, Roger's father, to retrieve the clothes. Most of the freeway exits were blocked by stalled cars. After an hour the three managed to reach the Dempsey cars, stalled less than three miles from the service center. They radioed back to the service center with a two-way walkie talkie which the sheriff had provided that they had rescued the clothes. The crowd in the service center cheered. The wedding softened the hardship of the stranded travelers. Roger and Sandy were married before the crowd of 25 who applauded enthusiastically afterwards. Judge Thomassen issued a court order for the groom to kiss the bride. Red Cross volunteers Roger and Ruth -- - - West handed out more donuts, coffee and I sandwiches to the make-shift reception. I The inadvertent caterers were Jack I meo, manager of the Georgetown Kroger I store, and Dunkin' Donuts of 2649 I tenaw, who had unlocked their shops at I 3 a.m. Saturday morning to provide food I for the stranded travelers. The bride and groom cut the cake and I then grinned sheepishly at the crowd, I with whom they had expected to spend I ano'ther night. Then Michigan Cable I TV's Dolph whispered that he had 1 plained the situation to Downtown 1 mada Inn manager Davis Hunt and Hunt I had found the new Mr. and Mrs. 1 sey a room. A sheriff's squad car drove the couple I along the icy city roads to begin their I honeymoon.


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