GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A reunion took place at the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport that some thought would never happen.
Carolyn Mitchell thought her uncle David McCovery was dead. No one in her family had heard from him in five years. Come to find out, he was almost 2,000 miles away in San Diego.
“He’s been missing, and we’ve been looking, and thank God that he is alive,” Mitchell said.
McCovery’s plane arrived last Monday. His family could not believe the man wearing the gray sweatshirt with the California state flag was the man they thought they lost years ago.
"Man! Boy it feels so good," McCovery said as he made his way through the terminal. "I didn't think I would be able to lay eyes on my family again."
He ended up on the West Cost after a family friend asked him to go to from Moss Point to California with him. During the trip, they stopped at a Burger King in San Diego. McCovery got out to get a drink. When he came back outside the other man abandoned him. To make things worse, McCovery had no phone, no money and had suffered a stroke not too long before that, which affected his memory.
Left helpless, he became homeless.
“At one point I wanted to just give up and just say, ‘it looks like I’m just going to be stuck here for the rest of my life,'" McCovery told a reporter with KGTV in San Diego.
McCovery wandered the streets, losing hope, until a married couple, Claudette and Alicia Clark, met him outside of a Costco in San Diego. They bought him some clothes and food and talked with him.
After telling the couple what happened to him, they shared his story on social media. Within a few days, their connections helped them find his niece, who did not believe the phone call at first.
"It was really emotional, happy, and sad," Mitchell said.
In California, the Clarks coordinated the homecoming trip with Operation Homeless Hope and raised more than enough money to get McCovery a plane ticket home and a hotel room so he could take that hot shower that he’d been wanting for so long.
"I thank the Lord for those two ladies. I would never, never, I mean never forget those two ladies," McCovery said with tears in his eyes.
His niece said they went to California looking for him years ago, but no one had seen him. On the streets, McCovery was praying his sister Leila would be the one to rescue him, but she died before they could be reunited.
“My mom is living through him, so I’m excited,” Mitchell said.
Thanks to kind strangers and the power of social media, McCovery is back where he belongs.
“We’re ready to start a new start,” Mitchell said.