D.C.

Nicholas Simmons AP photo reunites him with his family

Decrease Increase Text size

 

Nicholas Simmons, 20, of Greece, N.Y., 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, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. AP Photo.

(WJLA) - With the president still away last Saturday, AP White House photographer Jaquelyn Martin was shooting pictures on cold weather in D.C., and captured some men gathered around a heating grate. One of them would only say his name was Nick.

"And I remember thinking how young he looked and that he didn't have the kind of street-weary look," said Martin.

She filed several photographs which went out -- one was republished from USA Today in the Democrat ANC Chronicle newspaper in Rochester, NY, where the Simmons family was frantically trying to find their son Nicholas, 20, who has emotional and mental issues:

"He left the house in a pair of sweatpants and sneakers and a t-shirt, so he's not dressed for the weather," said his family.

Nick reportedly fled after a dispute with his family without a cell phone or wallet, and then his family spotted him in Martin’s photo. They managed to get in touch with each other shortly thereafter:

"I contacted the mother and she immediately starting crying when she found out who I was and she just asked me, 'Please tell me anything you can about him -- is he eating food, is he cold....'" said Martin.

Martin said the mother wanted her to go back to the grate, but by that time, President Obama was back.

"I couldn't leave to find Nick until my duty was done at the White House, so it took me a couple of hours to get back." she said.

But Martin managed to find him back on the same grate and reunite him with family friends whom he did not recognize. Police then took over from there.

"I feel incredibly fortunate that a photograph that I made helped reunite a family," said Martin. "It's really reminded me how important what we do as journalists is."

Recommended For You