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Aida Simon recognized for saving life of 4-year-old

WORTHINGTON -- It was a normal day for 4-year-old Simon Legesse. As usual, the school bus dropped him off at his Knollwood Apartments home at noon once daycare was over.

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Aida Simon stands with Police Chief Troy Appel after receiving the Lifesaving Award. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - It was a normal day for 4-year-old Simon Legesse. As usual, the school bus dropped him off at his Knollwood Apartments home at noon once daycare was over.

 

But hours later, it had become painfully apparent that nobody knew where he was.

 

It was cold on the afternoon of Feb. 23. Thermometers read 28 degrees with a windchill of 15, and a snowstorm was quickly approaching the city. It had been two and a half hours since the police received a call reporting a missing child. With temperatures so low, search parties from the city’s police and fire departments didn’t have much time to find him.

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Aida Simon, parent engagement specialist at the Nobles County Integration Collaborative, headed over to the apartment to comfort Legesse’s mother and assist as an interpreter.

 

While officers searched the area, Simon noticed a rug tucked underneath a chair on the patio outside of the apartment. She felt something in her gut - an unshakable feeling that Legesse was there. When she walked outside to check, she found Legesse tucked under the rug, ending the search and saving his life.

 

“My heart dropped, and I don’t recall much of what happened after that ... it was a blur,” Simon said. “I remember screaming for the police ‘He’s here, he’s here!’”

 

Legesse, disconnected and visibly suffering from hypothermia, was carried inside and wrapped up with blankets. He was rushed to the emergency room and released from the hospital the next day.

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Simon was honored for her efforts Monday with a Lifesaving Award from the Worthington Police Department and the city of Worthington. She said the award “means a lot,” but doesn’t feel she deserves it.

 

“I feel like I didn’t do anything; I just found the child,” Simon said. “But the people who worked hard were the police department, everyone out there in the cold looking for him.”

 

Policemen and firefighters weren't the only people searching. Many of Simon’s co-workers came over to help when they heard the news. Residents of the apartments were looking to help in any way they could. The ambulances were ready before Legesse was found because the drivers were circling the area searching for him.

 

Simon and many others followed the family to the hospital to offer prayer and support. Some residents even stayed until the family had to leave.

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“It kind of humbled me - not only just finding the child but seeing the community come together, just running around to save a child’s life,” she said. “It just made me feel like ‘Wow, what a community we have here.’”

 

Simon said she was emotional for days after all that happened. As a child’s life was saved - possibly just in the nick of time - the outcome gave Simon a new outlook on things.

 

“I feel more grounded, thankful and appreciative,” Simon said. “Just take every day like the moment is now; not have to wait for tomorrow to say something or do things. I just want to spend every little bit of free time I have with my family and my kids.”

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