A couple in Buffalo sheltered the body of a 63-year-old mother who died outside their home on Christmas Eve during the brutal blizzard that claimed the lives of dozens in the region, according to a report.
Carolyn Eubanks, who had a heart condition and required an oxygen machine, perished during a desperate rescue attempt by her relatives after she lost power in the monster storm.
Eubanks’ son, Antwaine Parker, told the Buffalo News that he knew his mother wouldn’t survive long in her Lovejoy home without electricity and a depleting oxygen supply.
When 911 operators told Parker there was nothing they could do for his mother, he and his stepbrother, Kenneth Johnson, decided to risk the typically 10-minute drive from Cheektowaga to her home.
In Saturday’s whiteout conditions, it took them a grueling seven hours to make the trip, according to the newspaper.
When the pair finally made it to Eubanks’ home, they tried to carry her to their car, which they had to park two blocks away. But she quickly became fatigued, Parker said.
“She’s like, ‘I can’t go no further.’ I’m begging her, ‘Mom, just stand up.’ She fell in my arms and never spoke another word,” Parker told the Buffalo News.
Desperate, Parker pounded on doors of homes on Ideal Street. Eventually one resident, David Purdy, answered. After Parker explained the gravity of the situation, Purdy jumped outside in his slippers and a T-shirt to help, according to the report.
Parker, Johnson, Purdy and another neighbor used a sled to get Eubanks to Purdy’s front porch through snow drifts as high as 3 or 4 feet.
Once inside, Purdy and Parker tried to resuscitate Eubanks, but it soon became clear that she had died.
Parker called his wife and told her what had happened. She proposed that she attempt to drive to Purdy’s home. But Parker and Purdy decided the best course of action would be for Parker to return to his home in Cheektowaga and leave his mother’s body there, Purdy told Buffalo News.
Purdy said he kept Eubanks’ body covered inside the house. When heat and power returned on Sunday, he then moved her body to his porch to slow the decomposition, with Parker’s approval, the report said.
“I done it as respectful as I could,” Purdy told the paper.
Later Sunday, Purdy tracked down a group of first responders and told them he had a body on his porch.
The responders loaded the body into the pickup truck and took her to Erie County Medical Center, he said.
Purdy said he and his fiancée, Cassieopia Layhee, were devastated that he couldn’t do more to save Eubanks. He said he plans to attend her funeral.
“It’s saddening. This lady was six months younger than my mom. My mom lives a couple blocks away and is on oxygen, and if she needed help, I’d hope there would be people out there to help her, as well.”
“I think we did make a friend for life under the worst circumstances possible,” he said of Parker.
Parker told Buffalo News he’ll always be thankful for their help.
“They’re two beautiful people. They didn’t have to let me in,” Parker said on Tuesday. “I had to thank Dave and Cassie, two strangers I’ve never seen in my life, never met. They allowed my mother to rest in peace on their living room floor.”
He doesn’t regret his decision for trying to help her, as she likely would have died if she was left alone at her home by herself.
“I didn’t give up and let her die by herself. She didn’t die alone. I can live with that for the rest of my life, knowing that I fought for my mother. She tried and tried until she couldn’t go any further,” said Parker.
In addition to her son, Eubanks was survived by four stepsons, two stepdaughters and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the newspaper reported.
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