This year Buffalo saw its worst blizzard in 50 years. Residents followed instructions and stayed indoors. But the instructions slipped the mind of one resident, Joey White, who is mentally disabled.
Joey got caught in the blizzard and things might have turned fatal if it wasn’t for one kind woman and her family…
Sha’Kyra Aughtry is a resident of Buffalo and was spending Christmas Eve bundled inside her home with her family. There was a historic blizzard raging just outside her front door.
Suddenly she heard someone wailing and crying outside. She went outside with her boyfriend to investigate and found an older man who was completely disoriented and almost frozen to death.
The man was 64-year-old Joey White, a resident of a group home in the area. White had signs of severe frostbite. Sha’Kyra Aughtry had to use a hair dryer to be able to peel off Joey’s clothes and had to resort to cutting his socks. Miraculously, Joey remembered his sister’s number which Aughtry called to inform her of her brother’s condition.
Yvonne White, Joey’s sister was relieved someone had found her brother but was distraught that she would not be able to do anything since roads were blocked and she lived 20 miles away from the Aughtry’s residence. “The simple fact that he remembered my phone number is miracle number one,” said Yvonne White.
Joey’s condition was bad; he had frostbite and was not doing well. Aughtry took pictures of his skin, which she later sent to his sister. It was swollen and covered with colorful blisters and sores.
“Sha’Kyra was telling me that he was literally frozen,” Yvonne White said. “She covered him up, she did everything for this man. She washed his clothes, she bathed him, she fed him,” Yvonne said.
It is believed that Joey left his home to go to this job at the North Park Theater, where he has been working as a janitor since the 1980s. Ray Barker — the program director at North Park Theatre — said he called Joey on the 22nd of December to let him know he is not supposed to come to work.
“For someone who’s used to being in a pattern, I think it’s hard not to engage that pattern,” said Barker, he added that Joey would even show up to his job during the pandemic when the theater remained closed.
Aughtry and her boyfriend tried to call 911 and other emergency and medical services but because of the blizzard received no help. “We called 911 easily 100 times,” Yvonne White recalled. “We tried everything.”
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“With the blizzard, all of the emergency services have been affected,” said Barker, adding that Aughtry also contacted the theater to let staff know about Joey White’s condition. “We’ve been worried sick about him.”“We were flipping out and crying,” Yvonne White said. “It was just getting worse and worse.”
When they had exhausted all the resources they had, Aughtry finally relented and took to Facebook. She posted a live video on Facebook and made a plea saying, “I’ve been very private and sensitive about this situation. I have literally called everybody under the sun.” She added, “I’m asking for help from whoever,” she continued. “This man needs serious help.”
Within minutes, neighbors showed up to help. Some plowed Yvonne’s driveway while others helped transport Joey to a hospital. They wrapped him up in a warm blanket and took him to Erie County Medical Center. Aughtry was with him for the ride.
“I’m right here. You okay? Nothing’s going to happen. Just breathe,” she reassured Joey in the video. Joey was diagnosed with fourth-degree frostbite at the hospital and doctors say his recovery is not certain yet.
They are asking people to send Get Well Soon cards to keep Joey’s morale up during his hospital stay. A GoFundMe campaign has also been organized to help both Joey White and Aughtry.
“I feel that Joey and I now have a sister and a brother and three nephews,” Yvonne White said. “This was such a Christmas miracle.”
We are praying for Joey White’s swift recovery. This was such a heartwarming story of human empathy and the kindness that everyday people are capable of.
Share Joey White’s story with your friends and family to show them there is still good in this world.