WASHINGTON – Some would call it a coincidence. To others, it is something grander.
“It’s really truly incredible if you think about the odds,” says Jacquelyn Martin, a photographer from the Associated Press.
Martin was on a regular assignment this past Saturday, snapping photos of cold weather in the nation’s capital. She photographed a group of homeless men huddled around a heating vent by the Federal Trade Commission.
One man stood out as being younger. He was only 20.
“I knelt down and I asked him what his name was, and he would only tell me that his name was Nick,” Martin says.
Nick, as in Nicholas Simmons, a man from upstate New York who disappeared last week. His family had no idea where he was.
Then, they saw the AP photo posted in USA TODAY Sunday.
Relatives contacted Martin and, through the extraordinary twist of fate, they tracked down their son.
“It’s really been a very moving experience,” says Martin.
It is still not clear why Simmons left home or how he got to D.C. Regardless, his family says what happened was a miracle.
“They (Simmons’ relatives) are people of faith,” Martin says.
“They really believe that I was meant to take this picture so that they could find their son.”
Family friend Peter Gugino says Simmons was discharged from a hospital Sunday night and spent the night in a Washington hotel with his father and older brother. Gugino says the three men headed home to Greece, N.Y. Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.