WASHINGTON – James McCormick drove by a ravine near his Laurel, Md., home many times in the week since his 18-year-old son disappeared, oblivious to the fact that his son lay trapped below.
On Saturday, Julian McCormick stopped waiting for someone to find him in his upside down Honda Civic. Injured and dehydrated, he somehow managed to climb out of the car and up to the side of the road.
A woman riding in a car on Powder Mill Road in Beltsville spotted McCormick lying there. He was able to tell her name and other facts, but didn't know how long he had been there, said the woman, Leigh Ann Hess.
"The prayers that everyone sent up — the prayers are truly answered," James McCormick told The Associated Press after being reunited with his son at the scene.
"He's scraped and bruised, but he's awake and coherent," the elder McCormick said.
His son was unable to move and was taken by helicopter to a hospital for evaluation, McCormick said. He said paramedics were worried about internal injuries.
"They said it's a miracle he's still alive," he added.
The family filed a missing person report after Julian McCormick disappeared a week ago. The Bowie State University student left campus the morning of Sept. 1 to pick up his girlfriend in College Park, but he never showed up.
Although it's not far from the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the section of Powder Mill Road where McCormick crashed is a very rural area with farms and fields, said Sgt. Robert Lachance of the U.S. Park Police, which has jurisdiction over the area.
The Park Police said the car was found in a creek below a bridge. The crash is under investigation.
James McCormick said the road goes right by his house, though Julian was taking it to get to Route 1 on his way to College Park.
McCormick said he believes his son was stuck in the car the whole week and only climbed out Saturday.
Hess said her mother was driving her and her two children from her mother's house in Beltsville to their home in Bowie at about 5 p.m. Three months pregnant, she wasn't feeling very well and was staring out the window when she spotted Julian McCormick lying by the road. He looked like he was bleeding heavily from his head, she said.
Her mother pulled over and dialed 911, while Hess ran up to McCormick.
"He wasn't moving but he was kind of reaching out with his fingers, like he was trying to flag down a car," she said.
As she stood talking to him, more cars pulled over and a crowd gathered. He told her his name, his age and that he goes to Bowie State. But when she asked how long he'd been there, he said, "At least since this morning."
"This kid has such a will to live," Hess said. "It just floors me."