A Buffalo woman saved a man from freezing to death after pulling him out of the storm
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(CNN)–As a powerful storm battered western New York with blinding blizzard conditions in the early hours of Christmas Eve, a Buffalo woman sprang into action when she saw a man caught in the storm.
Sha’Kyra Aughtry said she was at home when she heard someone yelling on her street. When he looked out the window, he saw a man calling for help in the freezing cold.
Aughtry’s boyfriend carried the man, Joe White, 64, into the house, and she used a hair dryer to melt the ice off his red, blistered hands and used a “lawn mower” to remove the rings, she said in a live broadcast on Facebook.
When the Buffalo woman tried to call emergency services for help, no one came, she said. And with no experience in healthcare, Aughtry said she worried for her safety.
He took to Facebook to share what had happened and ask for help.
“I am going crazy because I am afraid,” she said on the live broadcast. “I’m starting to see his body change a lot from the time I had him; his body has changed rapidly every hour.”
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As the storm buried Buffalo in a thick layer of snow, emergency services were unable to respond to calls for hours over the weekend, with ambulances and rescue teams even getting stuck in the snow, officials said. Erie County at press conferences.
At least 31 weather-related deaths have been confirmed in New York’s Erie County, including one attributed to a delay in emergency equipment, according to County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
With no one coming to help, Aughtry said he feared for White’s life.
“I have called the National Guard. I called 911. I called everyone, they just told me I was on a list. I don’t want to be on a list,” Aughtry said in his live broadcast. “I don’t care about anything else. This man is not going to die here.”
Eventually, he said, his pleas were answered.
Aughtry posted another live stream on Facebook of her and a group of men taking White to a hospital on Christmas night. “I’m in the car with him and some good Samaritans who came and shoveled our snow,” he said.
One of the men said he saw her first Facebook live stream and came to help, according to Aughtry.
The live stream shows Aughtry reassuring White in the back of the car on the way to the hospital.
“You’re doing an excellent job, Joe,” she said. “You just have to breathe, okay?”
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Sha’Kyra Aughtry y Joe White.
Family says frozen man is recovering in hospital
White is now recovering in the ICU from a fourth-degree frostbite after arriving at the hospital Sunday night, her sister Yvonne White told CNN.
“I hope and pray for the best,” he 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 became disoriented after leaving her group home on Christmas morning during the snowstorm.
Barker added that White may have thought she needed to go to work, even though she had the day off.
“I was in trouble,” Barker told CNN. “And (Aughtry) clearly saved his life.”
White’s sister was also grateful to Aughtry, who says she now feels like family.
“We were all trying to help each other and it was wonderful,” he told CNN. “And now I feel like I have a sister and three nephews,” she said, referring to Aughtry and her children.
Barker is the programming director of the North Park Theatre, where White works, and has known him for more than 30 years. White is the theater’s longest-serving employee, having worked there since 1980.
“Theater is really his whole life,” Barker told CNN.
“We have been very concerned about Joe,” Barker said. “We know that he is receiving good medical care at this time and we cannot wait for him to return to the theater.”
The theater began fundraising for Aughtry and White, which together raised more than $50,000. The theater honored Aughtry and her boyfriend Trent with a message on its marquee.