Georgia man Bryant Collins is a hero. This past Friday, June 13, he noticed something moving in the grass along Highway 72—it was a 15-month-old baby, who he stopped from crawling on to the busy road.
"I had seen something out of the corner of my eye, and I thought it was a baby," said Collins, 11Alive News reported. "I just stopped [my car] and, when I got out, there was a baby…almost in the highway."
“What the hell is going on? A baby?," Collins recalled thinking. Emily Pickens had crawled from her house, through the woods, and nearly on to the highway. She was 300 yards from home.
Emergency crews arrived shortly after Collins called 911. According to Madison County Sheriff Kip Thomas, the child did not suffer any serious injury.
“Everything was pretty much superficial that we saw," said Thomas. "Honestly that's almost a miracle: that a 15-month-old can go that far from her house, into the woods, fall down an embankment, wind up near a major highway, and really not get hurt that bad.”
Collins stayed with Emily for two hours after the incident, keeping her calm when she started crying.
“I turned my phone on and let her listen to some gospel music, and she calmed right down,” he told 11Alive News.
According to Collins, he couldn’t have saved this baby, if he hadn’t made the decision to save himself many years ago.
"I did 10 years in the federal institution for manufacturing cocaine," he said. "When I was in prison, I made a very conscientious effort to change, and I did." Collins has been free and clean for five years.
Since this story aired Monday, June 16, Collins has received an outpouring of thanks from family and strangers alike.
"A lot of people thanked me – a lot of people," he shared. "Everybody is proud – my mother, wife, sisters, brothers, my friends at the barbershop."
Adding, "It's really no comparison," Collins said. "I've got children…the baby could have easily been run over – easily. That's what's important: the baby got saved."
Police have arrested Timothy Pickens, Emily’s father, and most likely arrest her mother as well.
Ravelle Worthington is a writer living in New York. Follow her on Twitter @ravmo.