WASHINGTON (AP) -

What could have created a lifetime search happened in a week.  On New Year's Day 20 year-old Nicholas Simmons disappeared from his parents' Greece, New York home.  His family didn't know where he went.  He left everything behind including his wallet and cellphone.  

His parents contacted local media to get the word out that Nicholas was missing. 

The Daily Mail reports it wasn't until a photo spotted in the USA Today Sunday morning paper was brought to his parents, Paul and Michelle Simmons, attention.  In the picture was a man who they believed to be Nicholas. 

Homeless man reunited with family

The photograph was taken by an Associated press photographer.  The photographer captured Nicholas with a blanket covering him and his head against a steam gate trying to keep warm. 

Nicholas ended up in Washington D.C., blocks from the U.S. Capitol. 

AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin was capturing the reality of just how cold it is in D.C..  

It was Nicholas who grabbed her attention. 

"It struck me how young he was," Martin said. "I again introduced myself and shook his hand. He said his name was Nick."

Nick's family contacted USA Today to get in touch with Martin, hoping she knew where he was. They then set out to Washington D.C. to bring Nicholas back home.

According to Captain Patrick Phelan, Sunday police picked him up and took him to a hospital to get him checked out. According to family friends, Nick was reunited with his dad and brother that night. 

It's uncertain just how Nick got from New York to blocks from the U.S. Capitol.