As Duluths' first blizzard begins to wind down, Custom Cab owner Dan O'Hearon survived the worst of it and remains on the roof of GapWest Broadcasting to promote awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and his company's free sober ride program, running through Jan. 1st. "It got pretty wild up here; It was really loud, and really windy for a while. I didn't know if my tent was going to hold up" O'Hearon said in a phone call this evening. "I piled so much snow up around the sides to help anchor and insulate it that I probably lost 3 feet off the interior."
Photos show O'Hearon looking a bit frosty during the peak of the storm as he struggled against the wind to keep his tent from blowing away, and another shows his tent against the near white out conditions at the beginning of todays storm. With temperatures expected to plummet to the negative 20's tonight, he remains optimistic. "In just five years, Custom has become the second largest cab company in the area. The community has really embraced us, and as the owner I feel that providing safe, free rides for folks is just part of my responsibility to give back to the community" he said.
When asked how much money had been raised so far, he was unable to answer because he doesn't know how much people have contributed in the collection jars located at several area businesses, but did say that he has invested over $2000.00 so far in providing free rides and expenses associated with the promotion. "I hope that people understand that my drivers are really the ones most impacted by the free rides. That's money out of their pockets, and that's what I'm hoping to cover with the funds raised from this promotion," he said, adding that these men and women are the best cab drivers in the area. "They work hard every day, and they don't get paid for the free rides they provide. With the holidays coming up, I'm sure they'd like to be charging for those cab rides but not one of them has complained. They all feel this is an important public service. It's one thing for me to lose money in providing this service, but these drivers are the ones who are really sacrificing. Hopefully we can offset that with the donations."
At 7 p.m., the temperature in downtown Duluth was 4degrees, and as any one from the area knows, it's always colder "over the hill" where his tent stands on the roof top. While the storm has slowed, blizzard warnings remain in effect until noon Monday.