A photograph published Sunday by USA Today along with a story about the frigid weather sweeping across much of the nation led to the discovery of a man from western New York state who had been missing since New Year’s Day.
Nicholas Simmons, 20, of Greece, N.Y., hadn’t been seen by his family since he drove away from his home around 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 1, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
On Saturday, Associated Press photographer Jacquelyn Martin was out on assignment in Washington, D.C., when she took a heart-breaking photo of a man who identified himself only as “Nick.” The caption she wrote stated, “Nick warms himself on a steam grate with three homeless men by the Federal Trade Commission, just blocks from the Capitol, during frigid temperatures in Washington.”
USA Today used the photo to illustrate a story headlined “Danger Zone: Arctic Blast To Sweep Across Two-Thirds Of Country.” The article ran in a weekend edition of the newspaper that was circulated with Sunday editions of the Democrat & Chronicle.
Greece is a suburb of Rochester. Simmons’ family saw the photo and contacted USA Today reporter Natalie DiBlasio, who then messaged the AP’s Martin. The photographer, according to the D&C, guided “longtime Simmons family friends from Fairfax Station, Va., to the spot outside the Federal Trade Commission building where she had taken the photograph. The family friends, Peter and Cindy Gugino, and Martin eventually found Simmons, and police later picked him up.”
Simmons was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where he was reunited with family members.
“It was pure dumb luck how all this happened,” Greece police Sgt. David Mancuso, the lead investigator, told the AP. “It’s truly a miracle.”