A Trump rally in Omaha turned into a frigid nightmare Tuesday night as thousands of the president’s supporters were stranded miles from their cars for hours when promised buses failed to arrive.
The rally at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield drew at least 6,000 people; law enforcement and Trump campaign sources estimated the crowd at more than 10,000.
It was the kind of raucous mask-free event common to Trump campaign stops, although the air temperature hovered near freezing and there’s been a local spike in Covid-19 cases.
The president departed shortly before 9 p.m. aboard Air Force One, leaving much of the crowd literally in the dark, expecting shuttle buses to pick them up quickly.
Many had a long wait.
The last shivering stragglers finally climbed aboard buses after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
It was especially hard on older members of the crowd.
“At least seven people … were reported by airport medics as being transported to a nearby hospital,” reported USA Today, citing a local police tracker, Omaha Scanner.
More than 20 others received medical treatment at the scene, some showing “signs of hypothermia, including fatigue and confusion.
“Trump campaign officials said they had enough buses ready nearby to shuttle people back to their cars, but said a larger-than-expected crowd slowed the buses’ return,” reports the Omaha World-Herald.
One volunteer worker at the rally told the World-Herald she made it back to her car more than three hours after Trump departed.
“We were 3½ miles through darkness to get there. There was no direction given,” she said. “I expected at the end of the rally somebody will say, ‘Go this way and there will be buses waiting.'”
Buses did come, she said, but then “they didn’t come back for an hour and a half.”
Nebraska is not on the short list of battleground states where so much campaigning has taken place so far. But the Trump campaign reckons the presidential race could be decided by just 1 or 2 Electoral College votes, putting states like Nebraska and Maine in play, reports NBC News.