Nicholas Simmons, the 20-year-old young man who was reunited with his family after he was shown in a newspaper’s photo about the cold weather, didn’t appear to be interested in being found when an AP photographer offered to print his name with the picture. Nicholas A. Simmons just wanted to be called "Nick." According to a Jan. 6, 2014, Democrat and Chronicle report, Nicholas A. Simmons was last seen leaving home on Cider Creek Lane on New Year's Day.
Nicholas A. Simmons left his home in Greece, New York, without his wallet, his cell phone, and everything else.
"Simmons was last seen leaving his Cider Creek Lane home by car around 5 p.m. Jan. 1, according to Greece police. He was driving a red 1999 Buick Century sedan. It was not immediately clear how Simmons got to Washington or whether he still had possession of his car when he was found."
Four days later, AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin was taking pictures of the freezing cold weather just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Among the many pictures that Jacquelyn Martin took was a photo of a young man wearing a ski jacket, a hood over his head, and being covered with a thick gray blanket. Of the many cold weather photos that the Associated Press reporter sent in, USA Today chose for its cold weather report the picture of the young man wrapped in a blanket and warming himself on a steam grate on the street just blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
Nicholas A. Simmons’ parents, who had set up a Facebook page in order to find their 20-year-old missing son, saw the AP photograph in the USA Today after someone brought it to their attention.
Hours before Nicholas A. Simmons was found, the 20-year-old young man’s mother wrote in a post on Facebook. “Nick is alive and obviously not well. (We) are going to get him home safe and this is by far the greatest example of God's love and divine intervention I have ever experienced. I am beyond able to put into words how I am feeling."
According to police, Nicholas A. Simmons was found by Washington police near 6th Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW and was taken to George Washington University Hospital as a precaution. At the hospital, the missing young man was reunited with his father and brother.
Greece police Sgt. David Mancuso, the lead investigator in the case of missing Nicholas A. Simmons, told the Associated Press. "It's truly a miracle. It was pure dumb luck how all this happened."
In response to her missing son having been found, the young man’s mother reportedly wrote on Facebook. "GOD took that photo, GOD made us find him . . . it could have been months before we had a lead on his whereabouts. My baby looks so lost and I will be spending the rest of my life making him well."
What makes the story of Nicholas A. Simmons intriguing is not only the fact that the 20-year-old was coincidentally found through a newspaper’s cold weather photo but also the fact that Nicholas A. Simmons didn’t appear to be too eager to be found.
When AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin saw Nicholas A. Simmons “in a huddle of homeless men” and took his picture, she offered to print his whole name along with the picture so that he could be reunited with his family – but he declined.
"I introduced myself and shook his hand and he would only say that his name was 'Nick,'" Jacquelyn Martin said in an interview.
"I told him that if I could write his whole name in the photo sometimes it could help him connect with family and he said, 'No, I'm OK, but you can just write that my name is Nick.'"