As It Happens

As it Happened: The Archive Edition - The Discoveries Episode

This week's episode includes the story of an Associated Press photographer in Washington, D.C. When she headed out to take pictures of homeless people in the cold, she had no idea her work would wind up reuniting a family from upstate New York.
Nicholas Simmons, 20, warms himself on a steam grate by the Federal Trade Commission, just blocks from the Capitol, during frigid temperatures in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

On most days, Jacquelyn Martin works as an Associated Press photographer at the White House in Washington, D.C. But in January 2014, on a weekend when the president was away, Martin's editor suggested that she turn her lens to the homeless people struggling to keep warm on the city's streets.

He just had this forlorn expression on his face and looked a little lost.- Jacquelyn Martin, AP photographer

As Martin told As it Happens host Carol Off, she'd gone out early in the morning and that's when she first came across Nicholas Simmons.

"I found Nicholas in a group of four men who warming themselves around a steam grate, or heating grate, just a few blocks from the Capitol," Martin explained.

Martin noticed that Simmons was much younger than the other men in the group and "he just had this forlorn expression on his face and looked a little lost."

Unbeknownst to Martin, Simmons had been reported missing by his family in upstate New York days earlier.

After she was done taking photos, Martin went over and introduced herself and asked if Simmons wanted to give his name to be used as an identifier with the photos.

"He said, 'You can just call me Nick.'"

A group of homeless men warm themselves around a heating grate in Washington, D.C. in January 2014. The man on the ground, under the blue blanket, is Nicholas Simmons, who had gone missing from his home in upstate New York. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Martin's photograph of Simmons was published in USA Today, among other newspapers. A reporter at USA Today was quickly contacted by Simmons' family, who wanted to track down the photographer.

It turned out that Simmons had disappeared in the family car, leaving behind his wallet and cell phone.

"As soon as I was able, I called the mother," said Martin. "Immediately, she began to cry . . . and she started asking questions about the man I had photographed: if he was OK, was he hungry, did I know if he had eaten, was he warm enough, did he look hurt, anything I could tell her. She was just desperate for information."

Simmons' father drove all day to make his way to Washington to find his son and, afterward, Simmons was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

"They were worried that he might have died along the way, so you can imagine their relief and joy at being reunited."

You can hear our interview with Jacquelyn Martin, as well as these stories on The Discoveries Episode:

A dog who swallowed 43 pairs of socks and lived to wag the tail.

Two sisters separated as toddlers are reunited after learning they worked in the same office building.

A mailbag from a 1950 plane crash in The Alps found on a glacier.

An Irish golfer discovers the hard way that he shouldn't lick his golf balls.