Nicholas SimmonsOn New Year's Day, 20-year-old Nicholas Simmons disappeared from his family's home in upstate New York. But on Sunday, completely by chance, Nicholas' photo appeared in a local paper, the Democrat and Chronicle, alongside a story about the cold weather that's sweeping Washington, D.C. In the photo, Nick was seen leaning against a steam grate for warmth with, as the caption stated, "three other homeless men near the Federal Trade Commission, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol." Serendipitously, Simmons' family spotted the photo, and Nick was then taken to George Washington University Hospital by police, before being picked up by his family.
After Nick was found, his mother, Michelle Simmons, wrote on a now-defunct Facebook page: "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."
It's unclear how, exactly, Nick made it to D.C. He was last seen in his hometown of Greece, New York, in his car around 5 p.m. on January 1. He was driving a red 1999 Buick Century sedan, and it was not clear how he got to Washington, or whether he still had possession of his car when he was found. Also, when the photographer approached him to take his photo, Nick was very clear that he only wanted to be identified by "Nick" in the story, as opposed to his full name.
Now, clearly the chances of Nick being found this way are very slim, but to understand the odds of something like this happening, consider this: Simmons' photo had been selected by USA Today from a huge subscription photo agency, which carries thousands of photos at any given moment. The agency had 126 pictures depicting cold weather across the country, and three of them were of Simmons, but only in one of them could his face be clearly seen -- and that was the one they used. Kind of crazy.
Whether you believe in fate or not, it seems like Nick was meant to be reunited with his family. The odds of this photo running -- and his family seeing it -- are just too slim. It was meant to be. And it's a good thing, because it doesn't look like much good was going to come out of him being on his own. Thoughts and prayers to both Nick and his family.
Do you believe in fate?
Image via Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Corbis