A man with an intellectual disability was lost in a blizzard with frostbite.  On Christmas Eve, a woman helped save his life.

A man with an intellectual disability was lost in a blizzard with frostbite. On Christmas Eve, a woman helped save his life.

A man with an intellectual disability was lost in a blizzard with frostbite.  On Christmas Eve, a woman helped save his life.

During a blizzard last month in Buffalo, New York, Sha’Kyra Aughtry took action when others might be less willing. She welcomed a stranger – a man with an intellectual disability – into her home on Christmas Eve, save him from the scorching cold and to take care of him when he was suffering from severe frostbite.

“I kept thinking about: what if it was a member of my family?” Augustry told CBS News.

“It was a really good Christmas present,” she said. “And now, for the rest of my life, I will remember him.”

The rescue story began when Aughtry woke up on Christmas Eve morning and heard “help, help!”

She looked out the window and saw a man struggling in the snow.

“He was at my door, knocking,” she said.

It was 4 degrees outside with 53 mph winds. The man had no gloves on and looked lost and in pain.

So she and her boyfriend, Trent Alls, Jr., took the man, Joey White, inside.

“You put him at ease. He felt the love,” his sister, Yvonne White, told Aughtry.

The 64-year-old has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old, she said, and lives in a group home a few blocks from the home in Augustry. That morning he had gone to a movie theater where he had worked as a caretaker for 40 years. It’s unclear how long he lingered in the cold.

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Joey White at Sha’Kyra Aughtry.

CBS News


“He was so frozen,” Aughtry said. “His clothes were completely frozen.”

Her hand was in a ball, holding a bag.

“I said, ‘I have to cut the bag,’ because the bag was frozen. He had ice, literally balls of ice around his hand,” she said.

After bandaging her badly frozen hands, Aughtry called 911 again and again. But the weather conditions did not allow the first responders to reach them.

“I was waiting for the National Guard, and I was still waiting for 911, paramedics, firefighters…” she said. “I was expecting someone, and no one ever came.”

As the hours passed, the snow piled up, so Joey spent Christmas with her, Alls, and their children. She did his laundry, fed him and played him movies – while his hands changed color and the pain became unbearable.

“I was thinking, ‘If it takes them that long to come get him. And he is alive. How long will it take him to pick up a corpse if he were to pass? I couldn’t understand, I just couldn’t do it.”

On Christmas Eve, she took to social media in panic.

“This young man’s fingers are going to fall off at my place – absolutely not. I had to – he had a ring on his finger. I had to use [shears] cut the ring off her finger! I’m not a surgeon,” she said in a video she took at the time.

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Sha’Kyra Aughtry takes care of Joey White.

CBS News


About 36 hours into the ordeal, two Good Samaritans answered his call and took them to the hospital.

“When I got in the truck, he told me he was scared. And I said, ‘I’m scared too. I’m scared too, Joey.’ And I said, you know, ‘We have help…the doctors will take care of you.’ And then when he told me he loved me, I knew, I knew, he felt really safe.”

They arrived at the emergency room.

It was a Christmas miracle for Joey and a Christmas gift from the mother of three who chose to care for a stranger instead of celebrating Christmas with her family.

“Christmas wasn’t even about gifts, from my kids,” she said. “It was literally him. Christmas was him.”

She has a message for people who will encounter something on the road: “People should be kind. Be loving.”

Yvonne White said doctors had to remove all of Joey’s fingers, including his knuckles.

She also said that Augustry saved her brother’s life.

“I think especially these days the way our country is…everything is just, you know, the weather is terrible. It’s terrible,” she said. “And then to see the compassion and love with two strangers…it’s just amazing.”

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