A chance meeting between Nicholas Simmons and an Associated Press photographer in Washington D.C. Saturday led to the 20-year-old being united with his parents Sunday after he went missing from his upstate New York home New Year's Day.
Associated Press Photographer Jacquelyn Martin, who would have normally been covering the White House on Saturday but President Barack Obama was on vacation, happened upon Simmons while taking weather photos, according to the Washington Post.
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The photo was taken while Simmons was trying to keep warm next to a steam grate outside of the Federal Trade Commission's building near Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW.
Some 375 miles away, Simmons parents had frantically began an all-out search for their son in in the suburban Rochester, N.Y. city of Greece, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Simmons had been last seen leaving his home by car around 5 p.m. on New Year's Day, driving a red 1999 Buick Century sedan. It was not clear how Simmons got to Washington or whether he still had his car when he was found.
Martin's photo of Simmons was published by USA Today, for local editions of Gannett newspapers. The photo caught the attention of people on social media who knew Simmons was missing and contacted his parents.
By Sunday evening, police had found Simmons and took him to a local hospital where he was reunited with relatives.
"It struck me how young he was," Martin told the Associated Press as to why she was compelled to photograph Simmons
wrapped in a blanket. "I again introduced myself and shook his hand. He said his name was Nick."
Greece, N.Y. police Sgt. David Mancuso said that finding Simmons by way of a wire service photo "pure dumb luck. It's truly a miracle."
Martin said that the incident reminded her that every person has a story to tell.
"It's really gratifying to see that a photograph can make a tangible difference in someone's life. That's a really amazing thing to have happened," she told the AP. "I'm happy and touched that the photograph could help reunite this family."
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