Local News

Missed hair appointment leads to rescue of elderly Chatham woman

Posted February 11

— An elderly Chatham County woman is recovering after she fell outside her home near Siler City two weeks ago and spent a snowy night in frigid temperatures.

If it wasn’t for a missed hair appointment, 89-year-old Tempie Lou Johnson may have been found too late.

“She didn’t show up, and I didn’t know what was wrong because she always came,” said Helen Kidd, who has been styling Johnson’s hair every Friday for more than 20 years.

Johnson’s fall happened in late January, when a winter storm dumped snow and sleet across much of the state. Johnson said she stepped outside her door when she fell.

“I didn’t see that black ice, and my foot flew out from under me,” she recalled Monday. “I didn’t have enough strength to get myself up. I was hollering to get somebody’s attention, but nobody could hear me.”

The temperature reached 17 degrees that night. As she lay in the bitter cold, Johnson turned to her faith and prayed for help.

“Is this really the way you want me to go? Freeze to death?” she said. “I never thought about freezing to death.”

Kidd called Johnson’s family the next morning when Johnson didn’t show up. That call led to her rescue.

"I told them I don’t deserve no credit because it’s the Lord’s work, not mine,” Kidd said.

Johnson was unconscious with extreme hypothermia when she was found. Hypothermia is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when the body’s temperature falls below 95 degrees. Her core temperature was 72.


This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • scubagirl2 Feb 11, 12:30 p.m.

    What a lucky lady, and pretty hardy as well to have survived that. Glad she was found, kudos to the hair stylist for going out of her way.

  • rougemontredneck Feb 11, 12:43 p.m.

    what an amazing lady!

  • JustaBill Feb 11, 12:49 p.m.

    Lucky lady but a hair appt every week? Wow.

  • zoso62 Feb 11, 1:06 p.m.

    Her hair looks really nice.

  • Obamacare rises again Feb 11, 1:13 p.m.

    Her hair looks really nice.

    — Posted by zoso62

    Yours would too if you dropped 50 large every Friday.

  • xylem01 Feb 11, 1:19 p.m.

    Shampoo and Set is usually 20 bucks.

  • abwhite88 Feb 11, 1:22 p.m.

    I'm sorry but with a core temperature at 72... you're dead.

  • busyb97 Feb 11, 1:29 p.m.

    I'm sorry but with a core temperature at 72... you're dead.

    — Posted by abwhite88

    Obviously not.

  • NCishome Feb 11, 1:30 p.m.

    My Mom fell back the morning of November 2011 and broke her hip. The neighbor saw her dog and did not see her...she had attempted to drag herself so that she could be seen from the road. If it had not been for the dog who laid down beside her to keep her warm. The outcome would have been worst. She was found at 5pm. It took them over 6 hours to bring her core temp back up.

  • busyb97 Feb 11, 1:30 p.m.

    Lucky lady but a hair appt every week? Wow.

    — Posted by JustaBill

    Leave her be. How is it any different than the luxuries anyone else takes? A $4 cup of coffee every morning, or a manicure, or the latest gadgets.