‘Angel in Buffalo’: Woman hailed as hero for saving life of disabled man who nearly froze to death in storm

Sha’Kyra Aughtry heard a cry for help and found Joe White outside her Buffalo home, lost in a blizzard.

Bevan Hurley
Tuesday 27 December 2022 19:34 GMT
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A mother of three is being hailed as a “true angel” for saving the life of a developmentally disabled man who became lost in a deadly blizzard in Buffalo at Christmas.

Sha’Kyra Aughtry said she heard cries for help coming from outside her home at around 6.30am on Christmas Eve and saw Joe White, 64, caught in a snowbank and being buffeted by strong winds and heavy snowfall.

Ms Aughtry said in a Facebook Live that her boyfriend Trent picked up Mr White and brought him inside.

Ms Aughtry then had to cut off Mr White’s socks as they had become frozen to his legs, and used a hairdryer to thaw his frozen pants.

The couple fed him and tried to treat his hands for frostbite, which had begun to turn gangrenous, and piled blankets on him to try to keep him warm.

Ms Aughtry contacted Mr White’s sister, his only living relative, and staff at the North Park Theater cinema house where he has worked as the custodian since 1980.

With Buffalo’s streets paralysed under 50 inches (1.25m) of snow and emergency vehicles unable to reach the house for more than 24 hours, Ms Aughtry took to Facebook on Christmas Day to plead for help in getting Mr White to the hospital.

Sha’Kyra Aughtry is credited with saving the life of Buffalo resident Joe White who became lost in a blizzard at Christmas

A group of local residents saw the viral post and turned up to Ms Aughtry’s home to plow the snow on her street. She then rode with them as they took Mr White to a local hospital in a truck.

North Park Theater programme director Ray Barker told The Independent in an interview on Tuesday that the entire staff at the cinema house were overwhelmed with gratitude towards Ms Aughtry.

“This woman did what I think a lot of people wouldn’t do which is to respond to another human being in dire need and help him and take care of him. I think she knew he was in real trouble and she saved him,” Mr Barker said.

Joe White’s hands were severely burnt from frostbite after he became lost during the blizzard in Buffalo

Mr White is being treated in the burns unit at the Erie County Medical Center for fourth-degree frostbite and faces a lengthy recovery, he said.

“I spoke to Joe yesterday, he’s in good spirits, his voice is strong, and the nurse told me that frostbite is something that they have to look at over time, to see how the treatment proceeds,” Mr Barker told The Independent. “In a worst case scenario he would be looking at amputation of fingers, but we won’t know for some time.”

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