A 20-year old man who took off from home on New Year's Day after an altercation with his family has been found thanks to a photo that showed up in an issue of USA Today.
Nicholas Simmons disappeared from the New York town of Greece without his wallet or phone, and his family began a frantic search for him with no leads. Until, that is, AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin spotted a young man bundled up in a blanket on the streets of Washington D.C., trying to keep warm on a steam grate.
“I noticed there was someone all covered up with a blanket with a hood pulled over his head, and I looked down and I noticed how very young he looked. He looked a little unusual for the homeless population in D.C. in terms of his age,” Martin said. “There was something about him that I thought was very moving. He was leaning towards the grate, cuddling up to it for warmth, which I thought showed how tough it is being outside in this cold weather. He's just so young."
After the photo was published alongside a story about the homeless and their battle with the recent cold weather snap much of the country is facing, Simmons' family spotted it and couldn't believe their eyes.
"Nick is alive but obviously not well," his mother posted on the Facebook page the family started after he went missing. "We are going to get him home and safe and this is by far the greatest example of God's love and divine intervention I have ever experienced. I am relieved but still distraught by everything but HE IS ALIVE and his family will get him home, loved and cared for..and healthy again. I am beyond able to put into words how I am feeling."
Authorities say they don't know why Nicholas was living on the street or how he got there, but Martin says she is happy to have helped.
“It's extremely rewarding to know a photograph that I've made, made a difference in someone's life. It's really quite amazing. It just reinforces how important it is what we do as journalist. It's real easy to get jaded and to take a picture and move away,” said Martin.
Image via Thinkstock