Willowick woman found near death in a snow drift recovering from severe frostbite

She is lucky to be alive after December’s winter storm
Published: Jan. 7, 2023 at 11:00 PM EST
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WILLOWICK, Ohio (WOIO) - A 22-year-old woman was near death when she was found in a snow drift, with nearly her entire body suffering from severe frostbite on Dec. 23.

But, Janay Johnson of Willowick is a true miracle.

She has beat the odds and cheated death.

Her mother, Erica Martino, told 19 News her daughter is a fighter, “Her body temperature was 83 degrees and the doctor said most people don’t survive that.”

Johnson went out with friends on Dec. 23 as a severe storm moved in with wind chills of 25 below and wind gusts of about 40 miles per hour.

Her mother begged her to stay home that night, concerned that the weather would be too bad.

At some point, Johnson became separated from her friends and about three hours later a passerby found her on the ground, in a snow drift at an apartment complex in Eastlake.

Martino said, “She was purple from her buttocks down to her toes, and from her elbows down to her fingertips. I was told they had to intubate her because they were afraid that she wasn’t going to make it.”

However, within hours Johnson was back to breathing on her own and the frostbite slowly getting better, but leaving the 22-year-old in a lot of pain, “It took a couple days for the purple to go away and now she’s left with severe burn like wounds on her hands and her feet. One of her legs, from the back of her leg down to her toes, it’s just covered in burn-like wounds.”

Johnson was moved from the Intensive Care Unit at MetroHealth and is now receiving physical and occupational therapy, which has helped with the limited use of her hands, and limited use of her legs and feet with the help of a walker.

But one critical question, will she be able to regain full use of her hands and legs, or is there a chance she could have to face amputation?

Her mother said at this point it’s wait-and-see, but, “So far, everything is looking up. There might still be a possibility of like a fingertip or a toe, but everything is kind of looking up.”

Martino who is a nurse, said it’s difficult seeing your own child in so much pain, especially when she’s so used to being independent, but she’s forever thankful to the person who found her daughter in the snow and called for help, “I’m so grateful, because doctors said just a few more minutes and she probably wouldn’t have made it.”