Illinois graduate meets the man who saved her

CHARLESTON – Skyler James and Charlie Heflin share a long history.

But before James graduated from high school in Charleston last week, the two didn’t know each other at all.

According to the News-Gazette in Champaign, Heflin was an emergency medical technician listening to police scanner traffic back on Nov. 4, 1995, that led him to join the search for an abandoned baby.

Looking in a cemetery near Champaign, Heflin found the baby that would become known briefly as “Crystal Hope” in news coverage.

The 6-pound, 6-ounce baby girl was soon adopted by Bonnie and Greg James in Charleston.

Heflin moved on to the Evansville, Indiana, area where he still lives.

After searching for Heflin for years, Bonnie James tracked him down a few weeks ago and called him.

“She asked if I could come for graduation,” Heflin said. “I said I’d be happy to.”

Heflin went to Skyler James’ graduation but saved his surprise for her party on Sunday.

“Best gift ever,” Skyler said, adding that she thought her parents might get her jewelry as a graduation gift. “I never expected it to be Charlie.”

The two hugged and talked and, the 18-year-old James said, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

“After 18 years, I was so elated to find out that she turned out to be such a beautiful young woman, so vibrant and intelligent,” said Heflin, who is now 45. “Such a joyous occasion.”

Now they plan to stay in touch, and so far are doing a good job.

“We’ve been talking every day since,” Skyler said.

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.