Firefighter Rescues Abandoned Baby, 18 Years Later He Meets the Woman He Saved

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 23, 2014   |   6:34PM   |   Charleston, IL

Skyler James’ high school graduation party  had a very surprising special guest – the man who found her abandoned as a newborn on a frigid winter day in a cemetery.

skylarjames2“I was very speechless.  I didn’t know what to say,” James told ABC News about her meeting with Charlie Heflin.  “I could not say ‘thank you’ enough. I just hugged him and cried.”

James said  her parents had shared her history with her.  “I’ve always wondered if I’d ever meet Charlie or find out who he was.  I always wondered if I’d ever know the first hand side of the story,” she said.

As she  approached her teenage years, her adoptive mother Bonnie James made several attempts to reach the hero who rescued her daughter.  On a whim while addressing her high school graduation invitations, she looked through the white pages and tried several listings for Charles Heflin. When she finally reached the right Heflin, she invited him to her daughter’s graduation and her party on Sunday.

Here’s the background:

skylarjamesThe story begins back in November, 1995 on a very cold morning in Champaign, Illinois.

“My birth mother abandoned me,” said Skyler. “I was left in a cemetery. That night, there was a call put out to the dispatchers.”

An anonymous woman called 911 around 7a.m. that morning and told dispatchers a child had been abandoned under a pine tree at Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Police and fire crews were dispatched there, but couldn’t find anything.

That’s when local firefighter Charlie Heflin, who happened to be listening to the scanner traffic, decided to help.

On a hunch, Charlie went to a different nearby cemetery to look for the infant.

He didn’t find anything and started walking to his truck, but something told him to check again.



“I heard a little whimper when I got close to the tree,’ said Charlie. “I dug down inside this real huge pine tree and found her.”

Charlie says he scooped up the baby girl who was covered in blood and leaves, umbilical cord still attached, and was clinging to life in the sub-zero temperatures.

“I handed her off to the paramedics and I didn’t see her since,” said Charlie.