Buffalo’s woman, Mary Ann Williams, saw that a man was being caught by a storm-forced storm in western New York.
Sha’Kyra Aughtry said she was home when she heard someone screaming on her street. A man called for her help, and she was able to see him through her windows.
Aughtry’s boyfriend carried the man, 64-year-old Joe White, into the house, and she used a blow dryer to melt the ice off his red and blistered hands and used a “grass cutter” to take his rings off, she said in a Facebook livestream.
The Buffalo woman called emergency services for help but no one responded. Aughtry, who has no medical training whatsoever, expressed concern for her husband’s safety.
Facebook she used to post her story and ask for assistance.
“I’m going crazy because I’m scared,” she said on the livestream. “I’m starting to see his body change too much from the time that I had him – his body has changed rapidly every hour.”
As the storm buried Buffalo in thick snow, emergency responders were unable to respond to calls for hours over the weekend – with ambulances and rescue crews even getting stuck in the snow, Erie County officials have said at press conferences.
At least 31 weather-related deaths have been confirmed in New York’s Erie County, including one attributed to an EMS delay, according to County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
With no one coming to help, Aughtry said she was scared for White’s life.
“I’ve called the National Guard. I’ve called 911. I’ve called everybody – they just keep telling me I’m on a list. I don’t want to be on a list,” Aughtry said on her livestream. “I don’t care about nothing else. This man is not about to die over here.”
In a deadly winter storm, she heard the cries of helpers. She saved lives by her actions
Her pleas finally got answered, she stated.
Aughtry shared another livestream via Facebook, in which White was taken by Aughtry and other men to a hospital Christmas Eve night. “I’m in the car with him and some nice Samaritans that came and snowplowed us out,” she said.
Aughtry reports that one of them said he saw the first livestream on Facebook and came to her aid.
Aughtry comforts White as he drives to the hospital via the livestream.
“You’re doing an excellent job, Joe,” she said. “You’ve just got to breathe, right?”
White has fourth-degree frostbite and is in ICU now, according to his sister Yvonne White.
“I’m hoping and praying for the best,” she said.
Yvonne White said it was a “miracle” that her older brother, who is developmentally disabled and lives in a group home, remembered her phone number when Aughtry took him in.
White’s employer, Ray Barker, said White got disoriented after leaving his group home on Christmas Eve morning during the snowstorm.
Barker said White may have felt he must go to work, despite having the day off.
“He was in a mess,” Barker told SME. “And (Aughtry) clearly saved his life.”
White’s sister was also grateful to Aughtry, who she says now feels like family.
“We were all trying to help each other and it was wonderful,” she told SME. “And now I feel like I have a sister and three nephews,” she said, referring to Aughtry and her sons.”
Barker, who has been with White for over 30 years, is North Park Theater’s program director. White, who has worked at the theater since 1980, is the theater’s longest serving employee.
“The theater is really his whole life,” Barker told SME.
“We’ve been worried sick about Joe,” Barker said. “We know that he’s getting good medical care at the moment and we can’t wait for him to get back to the theater.”
Aughtry started fundraising for White and Aughtry, raising over $50,000. Aughtry, her boyfriend Trent, was honored with a message on the marquee.
“Thank you Sha’Kyra and Trent. Get well soon, Joe,” it reads.