After Seventeen Years, A Letter Was Sent To This Fireman From The Baby He Saved

Published on 05/10/2021
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A Distant Memory

Mike Hughes, a former firefighter, was a man with many talents. But, as he reflected on his days on duty, one particular incident remained on his mind. Mike Hughes dispatched to a call ten years ago that would profoundly affect the rest of his life. The sequence of events that follows could be the call that makes or breaks him.

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A Distant Memory

Fighting The Blaze

After being dispatched to a house fire, Mike and his coworkers leave according to protocol. When the firefighters arrived, they discovered a house on fire and fought the fire as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it was just another day at work for them, one where the consequences of failing to act quickly could be disastrous.

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Fighting The Blaze

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They had to act quickly and think quickly. They needed to get inside because the fire was rapidly spreading, and they needed to make sure everyone had properly evacuated. They put out the fire and gained access to the house, which was on the verge of collapsing. But something was waiting inside…

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The Burning Crib

Hughes dashed inside, through the flames, to the first location where he thought someone might be. He dashed from one room to the next. Something caught his attention in one of the rooms; his adrenaline was pumping, but he kept his cool and knew exactly what he needed to do! What was it that drew his attention?

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The Burning Crib

A Baby

When he saw the crib, he acted as quickly as he could. When he got to the crib, he noticed that a baby was trapped inside. Hughes remembers, “When we arrived, a large part of the house was already engulfed in flames. I found the baby curled up in a crib in the bedroom.” Hughes grabbed the baby and now needed to safely extract them out of the house. He was able to save a 9-month-old baby.

A Baby

A Baby

Flashback

Mike was haunted by this incident for the rest of his career. Something always brought him back to the fire, and he had no idea what happened to that baby afterward. He spent countless nights worrying about whether the baby had survived the smoke inhalation and where it was now…

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Flashback

Retirement

Mike had retired and was going about his daily routine. However, he couldn’t get this incident out of his head, and it was starting to keep him awake at night. His family and friends began to be concerned. Mike reached out to his fellow firefighters at the time, asking if they had any information.

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Retirement

Fellow Firefighters

They were all aware of the incident, but no one could recall any names. They were concerned about Mike, but each firefighter has a case that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Not knowing what will happen after the fire is one of the most difficult aspects of the job. Mike had no idea that he was about to get a lead…

Fellow Firefighters

Fellow Firefighters

Reaching Out

During a visit to his mothers, he mentioned that he needed to know if the baby was right. He described how the incident had been on his mind recently. What would he do if he didn’t know whether the baby was a girl or a boy? Mike’s mother had always been ecstatic about her son, praising him and standing by his side. She was on the right track!

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Reaching Out

The Paper Insert

Mike’s mother had saved any memorabilia he had accumulated over the years, as well as various articles about Mike’s fire station and notable incidents. In addition, Mike was fortunate in that she had saved the event’s insert from the newspaper. Mike needed something like this to delve a little deeper into the baby’s whereabouts…

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The Paper Insert

Playing On His Conscience

Dawnielle Davison was her given name. He could work with this lead. Mike had rescued many people, but this baby’s rescue had stayed with him for years. Mike felt compelled to find out where she was in life, even though it had been 17 years since the incident. What had gone wrong with her? Was she still alive?

Playing On His Conscience

Playing On His Conscience

The Search

Mike turned to Facebook because it was the best and only way he could think of to track down the baby he had rescued. He’d learned her name and was eager to track her down. So he typed in Dawnielle Davidson and skimmed through a few of the numerous results—it turns out that Dawnielle Davidson is a widespread name. As a result, he messaged as many people as possible who appear to be around her age now.

The Search

The Search

Nothing But A Dead End

Mike received a few responses, which he eagerly read through, each one as if it must be Dawnielle; it only made sense to him that the one who was her would respond while the others did not. He got reply after reply and then nothing. Mike was beginning to lose hope, but his luck changed all of a sudden…

Nothing But A Dead End

Nothing But A Dead End

You’ve Got Mail

Mike Hughes sent Dawnielle Davison a message on Facebook. She was perplexed and didn’t fully comprehend the situation. She was only 9 months old when her life was saved, after all. She said, “I was just kind of confused at first. I didn’t know any of this had happened.” Her parents were able to fill in the blanks and assist her in comprehending the heroic events that occurred more than a decade ago.

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You’ve Got Mail

The Facebook Message

“I sent her a note that said, ‘I think I pulled you out of a fire when you were a baby,’” Mike Hughes recalled the events. She and Dawnielle’s parents were skeptical when they received this; how did they know it was the firefighter who had saved their daughter?

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The Facebook Message

A Solution

The story had a crucial element that only the firefighter knew about. Dawnielle decided to respond as a result. Hughes recalls, “And she gave me a test… she wrote back, ‘Oh yeah, what was my mom doing?’” The real test was about to begin. Did he remember how long it had been?

A Solution

A Solution

The Risky Answer

Of course, for years, he couldn’t forget a single detail of the day! “I replied, ‘Well she was at work and your dad was there,’” Hughes said, adding that he did not have to pause or think for a second before responding.

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Disbelief

It was the correct response. Mike had not only remembered all these years, but he had also made an effort to find the baby he had saved, which the Davison family found incredible. Dawnielle and her parents couldn’t believe how much of an impact it had on Mike’s life. However, this was the beginning of something bigger…

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Disbelief

A Miracle

Dawnielle had heard parts of the story before, but it wasn’t until now that she realized how important Mike was to the plot. She believed that her survival meant she could overcome anything life threw at her, but it was all because of Mike. When she wrote back to Mike, he was completely taken aback, and he was moved to tears to see that this baby had grown up and was still alive and well. But, for them, this was only the beginning…

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A Miracle

A Friendship

Dawnielle and Mike stayed in touch after passing the test for a while. They exchanged messages, and she kept him up to date on her academic progress and her extracurricular activities. Mike felt deeply connected to her somehow, and Dawnielle realized she owed him a part of her existence.

A Friendship

A Friendship

Quite The Athlete

Dawnielle was a talented athlete who excelled in track and field. Mike would be updated on her accomplishments and performance on the field. He was overjoyed to hear from her and see how well she was doing. They had a strong bond. Mike, on the other hand, was caught off guard by what was about to happen.

Quite The Athlete

Quite The Athlete

A Momentus Occasion

Dawnielle had a big day ahead of her. At her graduation, she realized how important Mike was in her life and how she would not be graduating if it weren’t for him. In addition, she had an idea for something she wanted to do with him in mind.

Quite The Athlete

A Momentus Occasion

A Letter

Mike received some correspondence in the mail one day. It was purple and black, and it wasn’t your typical bill. He was a local and well-known in the community, and what he had received was the furthest thing from his mind.

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A Letter

An Invitation

Mike began opening the envelope when he realized who it was from. There was a picture of Dawnielle, but why would someone send him a picture of her. As he continued to read the letter, he was overtaken with emotion, a sense of pride. What was this black letter?

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An Invitation

Graduation Invitation

Dawnielle had extended an invitation. Mike had been invited to her graduation. Mike was both ecstatic and surprised. “She sent me an invitation so I thought, ‘By golly, I’m going,’” he said. “It meant an awful lot to me. I was really happy.”

Graduation Invitation

Graduation Invitation

The Next Milestone

Mike was present at her graduation, where he saw the nine-month-old baby he had saved graduate from high school. Naturally, he was incredibly proud of her. Dawnielle and her parents realized, however, that this was most likely one of the most significant events in her life, second only to her being saved, both of which she was able to share with Mike.

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The Next Milestone

Tears Of Joy

“I don’t know really how to describe it, they’re happy tears, to realize some things could have gone wrong,” Dawnielle said as tears streamed down her face as she hugged Mike after the ceremony. She appreciated him and his efforts that day.

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Tears Of Joy

Third Is The Charm

Dawnielle expressed her gratitude for Mike and his team, stating that she would not be here if it weren’t for them. Mike said, “She was the third person I’d pulled out of a fire in my career so I always say the third is the charm.”

Third Is The Charm

Third Is The Charm

A Similar Story

People’s kindness appears to be found almost everywhere. Kaydon was rescued in this case, just as Mike had rescued Dawnielle all those years ago. His story, however, is a little different… Kaydon, a six-year-old boy, had mysteriously vanished without a trace one pleasant night in mid-April of 2018. His parents initially assumed he was playing his favorite game, hide and seek, but they soon realized this was not the case. After a long and exhausting 22-hour search for Kaydon, they finally found him but were shocked to discover that he wasn’t alone. 

A Similar Story

A Similar Story

Extremely Concerned

Kaydon and his family lived in Top of the World, a small community in Blount County, Tennessee. His parents frequently let him play outside alone because he always promised not to go too far without informing them. However, something strange happened on the night of Monday, April 23rd, 2018. Kaydon didn’t return home as the day progressed into the evening.

Extremely Concerned

Extremely Concerned

He Didn’t Come Home

Kaydon’s parents were understandably concerned about their son’s whereabouts. It was well past 6 p.m., and he should have been home by now. Even though they knew he was having fun outside, things became tenser when they couldn’t see Kaydon. Where do you think their honey is? Is it possible he was hiding somewhere? Whatever the reason, this was so unlike him.

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He Didn’t Come Home

A Good Boy

Kaydon Leach was frequently depicted as a happy young child who rarely got himself into any trouble. He adored the outdoors and being in nature, but his favorite pastime was playing with his black and white terrier, Chula. Of course, Kaydon is now a six-year-old boy, so it was only natural for him to get into mischief now and then. So maybe he was joking around with his family.

A Good Boy

A Good Boy

Not Taking A Risk

Kaydon’s parents thought he had to be somewhere around the house and that he had gone to sleep. They quickly realized that they were completely wrong, so they attempted to contact the Blount County Sheriff for assistance. James Lee Berrong was immediately notified and came to meet Kaydon’s parents to understand the issues better…

Not Taking A Risk

Not Taking A Risk

A Missing Child

Of course, every parent’s instinct is to protect their children at all times, so you can only imagine what would happen if their worst nightmare came true. Kaydon’s parents were no exception. You can only imagine what went through their minds when they realized their little boy was missing.

A Missing Child

A Missing Child

Bad Gut Feeling

Something strange was going on, and no one could get to the bottom of it. Kaydon’s parents believed he was missing or had been abducted from their own backyard, even though it was unclear where he was or how he had vanished. Is he going to be okay? They all tried not to think about the worst-case scenario, but it wasn’t easy…

Bad Gut Feeling

Bad Gut Feeling

No Time to Lose

The County Sheriff was well aware of the urgency of the situation, so he quickly dispatched other authorities to assist them and raise awareness about little Kaydon. Normally, one had to wait 24 hours before filing an official missing person case, but the rules were loosened a little because this was a close-knit community that was always willing to help.

No Time to Lose

No Time to Lose

Trying To Be Optimistic

Kaydon Leach’s parents were extremely concerned about their children’s whereabouts. He was missing, and he didn’t have a winter jacket to keep him warm in the winter, so that he could have been freezing. Even though the sheriff tried his hardest not to believe the worst, it became tough. Finally, however, he attempted to reassure the family that everything would be fine and that he would help them as much as possible.

Trying To Be Optimistic

Trying To Be Optimistic

The Missing Boy’s Profile

At 7 p.m. that night, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued a report about a missing person. A detailed description of Kaydon was provided in the report to the Sheriff’s Office. Members of the community were also alerted to be on the lookout for young Kaydon. He was last seen around 6 p.m., according to reports. Let’s hope that everyone can help…

The Missing Boy’s Profile

The Missing Boy’s Profile

His Description

His parents described him as a lovely young boy with light brown hair and blue eyes. He stands 4 feet tall and weighs 60 pounds (around 27kg). Furthermore, they informed the Sheriff of what he was wearing at the time of his disappearance. Kaydon was dressed in gray sweatpants, a black shirt, and slip-on shoes. Is this going to be enough to help you find him? What else could they possibly do?

His Description

His Description

The Search

The local sheriff’s department has established a major search and rescue mission. Meanwhile, a military Blackhawk helicopter from the nearby McGhee Tyson Airbase was used to assist with the search. Berrong received a phone call from the Leach family, and it all began very quickly. The majority of the time, these operations are extremely successful. Would Kaydon’s situation have been the same?

The Search

The Search

Searching Everywhere

Even though a helicopter had been dispatched to assist in searching for sweet Kaydon, a ground operation had been launched to assist the overall operations. Within a specific area covering approximately 2000 acres of mountain terrain, the entire search and rescue team consists of nearly 100 first responders. The main question lingered until it was too late: would they be able to locate the young boy before it was too late?

Searching Everywhere

Searching Everywhere

Grid Searches

Marian O’Briant, a spokeswoman for the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, told WVLT News that both ground search parties and military assistance would thoroughly investigate the area throughout the evening to locate Kaydon. This was not only a difficult assignment, but there was also no time to waste. Multiple searches were going on simultaneously, so there was no way they couldn’t find him.

Grid Searches

Grid Searches

The TBI

Ground teams including the Tennessee Information Bureau (TBI), the Blount County Fire Department, Blount County Search and Rescue Tea, the federal Bureau of Information, Blount County Chief Deputy Jeff French, and the Blount County Sheriff’s Department have all pledged to stay focused on Kaydon’s disappearance. A lot needed to be done, which seemed critical given the number of services involved in the investigation.

The TBI

The TBI

A Community Comes Together

When word got out in the community that one of their own had vanished, everyone decided to reach out and do their part. Blount County Emergency Services issued an Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) message just a few hours after the operation began. They believe that knowing exactly what was going on was critical and that having an extra pair of eyes wouldn’t hurt…

A Community Comes Together

A Community Comes Together

A Caring Community

They knew right away that all hands needed to be on deck to see Kaydon reunited with his family as soon as the news reached their local community. A young boy’s life was on the line! These people were inevitably thinking about their own children and extended families, which hit close to home. But, at the end of the day, it’s all about a young child and his worried family.

Helpful Community

A Caring Community

Rallying Around

Even though the IPAWS message was clearly and openly transmitted, the Blount County community also learned about this terrible event. What was the exact method of disseminating the information? It was accomplished thanks to modern technology and a brilliant application called Next Door. This app served as a private social network for their neighborhood. This is what made the message delivery even more effective than expected…

Rallying Around

Rallying Around

News Coverage

Unfortunately, not everyone in the community rushed to help with the crucial search, but they made sure they could do everything they could to find Kaydon. One of the amazing local people spoke to WVLT News and said that “We’re a very tight community. We try to help everyone. I got a phone call about what was going on. I was coming up the mountain from work and just shot straight over and did everything I could to help.”

News Coverage

News Coverage

A Helping Hand

Megan Kessler is an active member of the community who was the first to learn of Kaydon’s disappearance. She then devised her own plan to reunite Kaydon with his family in a comfortable manner. She made sure all of the search and rescue volunteers had enough food and water, and she later told WVLT News, “We knew it was going to be a long night.” She also said, “We brought coffee, chili, whatever they needed. We wanted to make sure we could supply it. They wouldn’t let us search, so we did what we could.”

A Helping Hand

A Helping Hand

A Viral Post

Far too many people stepped up to the plate as soon as they heard the devastating news. Kaydon was featured in a Facebook post by the Tennessee Endangered Child Alert. They also provided a positive description of Kaydon Leach’s appearance and additional details about the events leading up to his disappearance. The post was also shared by WBIR Channel 10. Clearly, it was gaining a lot of attention quickly.

A Viral Post

A Viral Post

The Power Of Media

The post was shared over 2000 times and received about 350 reactions shortly after it was updated with all the extra information. It was insane to see it! The entire neighborhood worked tirelessly to ensure that Kaydon was not only safe but that he was returned to his worried family as soon as possible. Word spread like wildfire!

The Power Of Media

The Power Of Media

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