In 2022, tragedy hit New York during the most joyous time of the year. A blizzard slammed New York over the Christmas weekend, turning it into one of the deadliest snowstorms in the city’s history.
Buffalo, New York was particularly heavily impacted by the severe weather. Trees fell on power lines, and power plants froze, leaving many households without power.
Many individuals were stuck, and regrettably, some perished as a result of the subfreezing weather. Fortunately, in the face of such a grave and potentially fatal scenario, a number of people rose to the occasion and provided a helping hand to those in need.
Yvonne White received a phone call from an unknown number on Christmas Eve. “Hello,” the caller said. You may not recognize me, but I have your brother.” Despite numerous cautions to stay indoors during that disastrous winter storm, White’s 64-year-old brother Joe went outside.
Joey is mentally challenged and lives in a group home. Joe left the house for unclear reasons and traveled nine miles to the North Park Theatre, where he has worked as a janitor since 1980. He chose to walk home after staying there overnight. He happened to be in a snowbank outside Sha’Kyra Aughtry’s residence on December 24.
Aughtry could hear Joe weeping and sobbing in agony. She and her boyfriend went outdoors and promptly brought Joe inside to get out of the snow. He had severe frostbite, which was painfully visible. Aughtry used a hairdryer to remove his garments from his shaking body.
She also unglued Joe’s hand from the remains of a grocery bag and removed his frozen socks. Joe’s finger was significantly swelled and turning black from gangrene, so the pair had to take a ring off with enormous shearing clippers.
Aughtry attempted for an hour to warm Joe up before calling White. Joe had memorized his sister’s phone number, and Aughtry called to inform her that she was looking after Joe. She also provided White images of Joe’s swollen skin, which was covered with blisters and ulcers.
Despite the storm, there was no way for brother and sister to come together, and despite the first treatment provided by Aughtry, Joe required rapid medical assistance. Aughtry dialed 911 many times, but no emergency medical personnel could get to her residence.
Aughtry posted a frantic plea for help on Facebook the day after she discovered Joe. “I’ve been very quiet and sensitive about this circumstance,” she explained. I have literally phoned everyone and everything under the sun. I’m seeking for assistance from anybody can help. This man need immediate assistance.”
“I’m going insane because I’m afraid,” she continued. I’m starting to see his body changing too much since I had him – his body has altered swiftly every hour. I contacted the National Guard. I dialed 911. I’ve phoned everyone, and all they keep saying is that I’m on a list. I don’t want to be included on a list. Nothing else matters to me. This man is not going to die here.”
On a local Facebook group, White also requested medical assistance for Joe. Within half an hour of posting the footage, people began offering to help. Several others even arrived to shovel the area around Aughtry’s residence.
They then gently took Joe, who was wrapped in a warm blanket, to the Erie County Medical Center. Aughtry made certain that Joe was accompanied to the hospital.
“The physician who is treating him won’t know how he’ll get through this until time goes by,” Ray Barker, Joe’s supervisor and program director of North Park Theatre, said at the hospital’s trauma unit. We’re hopeful that doctors won’t have to amputate any of his digits.”
Joe, according to Barker, was a lovely guy with a strong devotion to hard work and a love of sports. “Her deed was an act of goodwill, it was an act of charity, it was an act of empathy, it was an act of caring,” he said of Aughtry’s benevolence. Joe will be unable to completely express his thanks, but he will feel it emotionally.”
Since then, he has raised almost $178,000 for Aughtry and $99,000 for Joe. Dearing continued, “Aughtry accomplished all of this without any idea of reward, yet she deserves one, and so does her family. She’s a hardworking young mother, and I want to repay her for the help she offered my friend Joe.”
White revealed that her brother Joe is still in the intensive care unit and that his health is not improving. “It’s simply touching and going,” she explained. It’s secure. His hands are entirely bandaged, and his fingertips remain purple. But he was in a nice mood today.”
Joe is developmentally challenged, with the mental capacity of an 11-year-old kid, according to White. He has no concept of time, so determining how long he was out in the snow is tough. He lives in a group home, which is only a few blocks away from Aughtry.
Dearing stated on his friend’s GoFundMe page that Joe was in excellent spirits, but that it was still too early to tell what would happen to his hands. “All cash raised here will be used to meet Joe’s most critical medical requirements,” he stated.
If, by some miracle, he survives the hospital, the cash will be used to improve his day-to-day care at home, ensuring that nothing like this happens again. We couldn’t be with him that night in the snow, but we can be with him today.”
White also conveyed her gratitude to Joe’s savior, adding, “What Sha’Kyra did… On Christmas Eve and Christmas, I fed him, bathed him, and assisted him in going to the restroom. It’s simply astronomical.”
She went on to say that if there was a silver lining to this scenario, it was that she had gained a sister in Aughtry. “With Sha’Kyra, we acquired a sister. With [her partner], we acquired another brother. “We now have three tiny nephews,” she added. “Sha’Kyra and I will always be sisters.”