It’s the kind of story Americans love. A young man reported missing was found through a press photo intended to show the cold wave sending chills through the United States earlier this month. On January 5th, a photograph of a homeless man warming himself at an air vent in Washington was published in USA Today. It was taken by Associated Press photographer Jacquelyn Martin.
Nicholas A. Simmons, 20, had run away from home on January 1st. His family had been looking for him since his disappearance and created a Facebook page to raise awareness. That Sunday, a visitor pointed out that a photo on the front page of USA Today showed a homeless man who looked a lot like Nicholas. Through Twitter, the young man’s sister contacted the author of the article, Natalie DiBlasio, who put her in touch with the head of the USA Today photo department. Nicholas was then identified and located by the police, who brought him back to his parents’ house.
The circumstances surrounding his disappearance remain unclear, but Jacquelyn Martin was in disbelief that her photograph could have such an impact.