Casey Maccarone’s mother was always a kind of superwoman, but even so, when Monique Alexander decided to go out on Christmas Eve, Maccarone worried.
It would have been a simple decision any other day, but a blizzard was setting in – one that would leave some areas of Western New York under more than 50 inches of snow.
Maccarone was feeling anxious already, watching the notifications about closures of stores on Facebook, she told CNN.
But her mother wanted to go out and Alexander, 52, said she’d be right back and left without mentioning where she was headed. Maccarone, who had lived with Alexander since August, said she just assumed her mom was trying to get to the stores before they closed.
Alexander never made it back. Her body was discovered only a few hundred feet from the house.
“We were waiting for her to come home. I knew something was wrong right away though, so I kind of accepted it instantly, but it’s hard knowing that she was outside for so long, too, because there were no emergency responders allowed to come outside,” Maccarone said, speaking outside her family home on Wednesday.
Alexander had been through tough storms before, and she walked everywhere.
“She’s always felt like superwoman and invincible, so I’m assuming that she just thought she could handle the conditions,” Maccarone said. “Can’t really tell my mom anything, she’s going to do what she wants to do. I’m assuming she just thought she was strong enough for it.”
Alexander left around 3 p.m. After a few hours, Maccarone posted about her mother to a Facebook group for Buffalo residents enduring the increasingly calamitous weather. About 15 minutes later, a stranger messaged her and described her mother’s coat and blue jeans. She confirmed it was Alexander and asked him whether he had seen her.
“Can I call you?” Maccarone said he asked her.
Once on a video chat, he immediately broke down. The man told her he had been stranded and was walking when he saw Alexander in the snow. He moved her body out of the elements, under the awning of a business where she wouldn’t be buried under the snow.
Later, the National Guard would retrieve her body. Alexander is among the at least 37 people who have died in Erie County, 17 of whom were found outside, officials have said, though they add, the total almost certainly will go up.
Maccarone said the family lost its rock and someone they could call on for everything.
“My kids they lost their grandmother, and that was her most important role in her life… being a good grandmother,” she said. “And now they just have memories.”