Dave Hickman was just 14 years old when he went hunting with his grandfather on a day that would change his life forever.
“We had hunted all day, shot a few squirrels and had started skinning them,” Hickman told The Tennessean. “It was about 6:00 and I heard an unusual sound. I thought, ‘I’ve got to see what this is.’ ”
Dave heard a strange noise and went to investigate. “It was just sort of a cooing sound. I walked east along the fence off Highway 122 and it got to the point where the noise got a bit louder. I climbed the fence, stepped down and that’s where she was lying, wrapped in a towel,” he said.
“I got on top of the fence, I looked down, and there was a little baby. She was soaking wet. Her lips were blue. She was just wrapped in a towel. My grandfather said, ‘We have to do something real quick, we have to get help for the baby,'” he elaborated to CBS News.
The pair rushed the girl to the authorities, and she survived.
But Dave was left heartbroken after she was adopted just a few weeks later, and he had no way of staying in touch.
“They handed her to me and they said, ‘She’s being adopted next week.’ They had her wrapped in a blanket. She was sound asleep. So I got to say goodbye to her,” he said.
When he got a little older, Dave set out to find the girl, but he had no success. His friends and family knew about his quest but it still was a failure for 58 years. That’s when retired sheriff John Catey called him.
When he was just 14 years old, Dave Hickman discovered a baby in the woods. She was soaking wet, her lips blue, and…
“He said, ‘Dave write down this name and this phone number — Mary Ellen Suey and her phone number.’ I said, ‘OK John, I said who’s that?’ (He said) ‘That’s your little girl,’ ” Dave recalls.
Dave and Mary’s beautiful reunion is the highlight of the above video. “Right now I’m just kind of numb,” Ellen Suey, the now-grown woman who was rescued, was quoted as saying. “I’m just so excited to finally meet him. It’s just so nice to meet him and give him a hug and thank him for what he did. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here.”
“I’ve been waiting for this for 58 years,” Hickman said when she saw her for the first time since 1955, USA Today reported.
“You’re my hero,” said Suey, who is now living in Riverside, California. “This is amazing.”
Dave Hickman found a baby in the woods while hunting in 1955. He spent the next 58 years trying to track her down.
Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton also attended their decades-in-the-making reunion.
“This story just says that you never give up. You follow your hopes and dreams and believe that it can be done,” she was quoted by USA Today as saying. “It also shows that we have a lot of good people here, always have and always will.”
Hickman said that he’ll remember that day for the remainder of his life.
He recalled: “I’ve seen that image of her laying in the weeds, and me standing on top of the fence every day of my life. And I’ll probably always see that, but at least now I know there’s a happy ending.”