It was September 22, 1955. At the age of just 14, Dave Hickman was hunting in the woods in southern Indiana with his grandfather. He kept hearing a noise he couldn’t place: in his words, “a soft, cooing sound.” Determined to find the source of the sound, he started walking along the line of a fence.
Fifty-eight years later, he recalled to CBS News: “I got on top of the fence, and looked down, and there was a little baby. She was soaking wet, her lips were blue, she was just wrapped in a towel. My grandpa said: ‘We have to do something real quick.’” The pair called the authorities, and the infant was given immediate medical attention. She was named Roseann Wayne.
Hickman had a final chance to bid farewell. “They handed her to me, and they said she was being adopted next week. They had her wrapped in a blanket, she was sound asleep, so I got to say goodbye to her,” he told TV network CBS News. But the image of the baby he’d rescued, and thoughts about what had become of her were to haunt him every day of his life.
Unable to get her out of his mind, he decided to try and track her down. It was a search which was to take 58 years to bear fruit. Finally, in December 2013, he got in touch with former Wayne County sheriff John Catey. Although retired, Catey took on the case. A few days later, Hickman received a phone call. “Write down this name and number,” the detective instructed. “Mary Ellen Suey.”
Baby Roseann had been given a new name, and a happy life by her adoptive family. But she’d always wanted to meet “the hero on earth” who had saved her life that day. And in May 2014, Hickman and Suey at last had an emotional reunion. Visibly moved, Dave told CBS he still recalled the image of the abandoned newborn baby. “But at least now I’ll know there’s a happy ending,” he said.