New Jersey teens drive 1,000 miles to see Hurricane Matthew

18-year-old storm chasers drove nearly 1,000 from New Jersey to Florida just to watch Hurricane Matthew roll ashore in the nation's oldest city

Wind and water from Hurricane Matthew batter downtown

Wind and water from Hurricane Matthew batter downtown St. Augustine, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) (Credit: AP)

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Millions of people were warned to flee Hurricane Matthew's path. But two 18-year-olds from New Jersey were determined to be in the thick of it in the nation's oldest city, even if it meant traveling nearly 1,000 miles to St. Augustine.

"I have an obsession with severe weather, snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes -- anything crazy that most people wouldn't go towards," Lucio Bottieri of Jackson, said Friday. "I've been obsessed since the 2005 hurricane season when there was storm after storm after storm."

That's when he was 7. While he rode out Hurricane Sandy at home four years ago, this week was the first time he's traveled to see a hurricane.

"My mom was really against my trip. I had to keep talking to her to calm her fear," he said.

Most of his friends thought it was a bad idea, too. Except Bailey Lilienkamp.

"He's not a weather nut like me, just a good friend," Bottieri said. "Nobody was willing to make the journey with me and he didn't hesitate to come. Bailey's mom was worried. Not quite like my mom."

They packed canned food, snacks, bottled water and a first aid kit, and left early Thursday morning, driving straight through to St. Augustine as the storm closed in.

Meanwhile, an estimated 2 million people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were being warned to evacuate.

As winds and rains from Matthew battered the coast on Friday, the teenagers from the Garden State stood by a seawall at the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th century Spanish fort. Salt water blasted into the air and hard, driving rain pelted them. Soon, too much water was coming in and they decided to go back to their hotel room for a quick break. They planned to venture out again just as the strongest winds were approaching the city.

Bottieri said he chose St. Augustine because he thought it would be safer than points farther south along the Florida peninsula.

"I thought too far south would have been too bad, because I've never really done this before and it was supposed to be a little easier here," he said. "I hope it doesn't get too bad for the sake of the people who live here, but I hope it gets a little worse."

Associated Press reporter Brendan Farrington contributed to this report.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Trending Video

This exotic Savannah cat was found wandering Mill 1 Exotic Savanna cat found wandering in Paterson
A North Jersey Coast Line train struck a 2 Family escapes car before it's hit by train
VIDEO: Sneak peek at new Seaside Heights roller 3 VIDEO: Sneak peek of new Seaside Heights roller coaster
Caught on camera: Argument over blocked driveway gets 4 Argument over blocked driveway gets physical in Elizabeth
Jersey Weekend Buzz 5 Jersey Weekend Buzz

advertisement | advertise on News 12

More News

A boy removes mud and water from his As storm hits Florida, Haitians try to help family on island

Nurses and doctors have been delayed by temporary airport closures in South Florida, unable to

Many flights to and from some of Florida's Hurricane Matthew causes closures, delays at major FL airports

Many flights to and from some of Florida's major airports are on hold until Hurricane

A structure lays on the ground, brought down Hurricane Matthew closes in on Florida with 140 mph winds

A strengthening Hurricane Matthew is steaming toward Florida with winds of 140 mph.

Andrew Esser boards up the glass doors at At least 500K urged to evacuate as Matthew nears Florida

Hurricane Matthew marched toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas and at least a half a

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.

LOGIN SUBSCRIBE