Couple saves a man's life during the Buffalo Blizzard

Couple saves a man’s life during the Buffalo Blizzard

Over the Christmas weekend, the Buffalo region, which is no stranger to snow, was hit with prolonged whiteout conditions and freezing temperatures that contributed to dozens of fatalities. 

Sha’Kyra Aughtry and her boyfriend, Trent Alls, Jr., who is a third-year apprentice with Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 22, saved a man who was lost in the blizzard on Christmas Eve.

Joey White, who is developmentally disabled, knocked on their door at about 5 a.m. Alls was hesitant to open the door because he had recently had some tools stolen.

At first, the couple couldn’t tell that he was an elderly man, but as they watched White walk to a few more houses, he collapsed. 

Alls went outside in the blizzard and brought White back into their home. Immediately, Alls said he noticed the man’s hands were like huge ice balls. 

White was suffering from severe frostbite. Alls and Aughtry quickly went to work to try to save White’s hands.

The couple repeatedly tried to get him to a hospital, but 911 was not responding to emergency calls because it was so dangerous outside. They were unable to spend Christmas Day with their kids, but they spent the holiday with White, caring for him for two days until they were able to get him to the hospital. 

“It was a Christmas we will forever hold in our hearts,” Alls said. “She did more of the nurturing part. I did more of the heavy lifting, like carrying him inside the house, helping him use the bathroom and stuff like that.”

Despite their best efforts to save White’s hands, they were too frostbitten to be saved, and all of his fingers, but one, were amputated. 

Aughtry and Alls visited White in the hospital after his surgery. White became emotional when he saw them. 

The couple continued to visit White regularly during his hospital recovery, focusing on helping him with basic needs such as eating. 

White has since been released from the hospital after 45 days and is continuing his recovery in a rehab facility.

Their story impacted the nation

After hearing the story, New York Governor Kathy Hochul honored Aughtry with a Certificate of Recognition. Then, to thank them for their kindness, the NFL surprised Aughtry and Alls with two tickets to the Super Bowl LVII in Arizona. 

Alls played high school football and dreamed of playing in the NFL, so this was an exciting surprise for him, but it was also overwhelming for them to be in the limelight. 

“I was excited to receive the tickets,” Alls said. “But I felt like I was just doing the right thing by helping him.”

The couple attended Super Bowl LVII in February and Alls reflected on his experience and said it will always be a great memory, 

While Aughtry and Alls could not save White’s fingers, if they had not welcomed him into their home that night and cared for him, he may not be alive today. 

Their act of kindness saved a life. Alls was humbled by the experience and said it taught him a few things about himself.

“I learned not to take life for granted,” he said. “Love those around you and cherish those who are close to you because tomorrow is not promised.”