A Colombian man has been found in a Florida park a month after he disappeared from Miami International Airport when American Airlines refused to allow him on a flight home because he did not have proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Miguel Ángel Roldán had traveled to Los Angeles to get vaccinated against COVID and visit a friend, and had flown on to Miami in order to get a flight home.
He attempted to board the second leg of his return flight home but was refused entry into the Medellín-bound plane because he was unable to produce the proper documentation to confirm he had tested negative for the virus.
He then vanished, and was last seen leaving the airport at around 5pm on July 24.
But he was finally spotted by Felicia Batista and her husband while they were on their way to volunteer at a church in Hollywood, Florida – around 20 miles away from the airport.
The couple recognized the 23-year-old from the photos that had been shared on the news and stopped to talk to him while they waited for the police to arrive.
Roldán was then taken to Memorial Regional Hospital to be treated for dehydration.
Cops alerted Roldán’s mother Alejandra Córdoba, who rushed to be at his side.
Miguel Ángel Roldán (left), was spotted by Felicia Batista (right) and her husband while they were on their way to volunteer at a church in Hollywood, Florida on Tuesday
Miguel Ángel Roldán (left) with his mother Alejandra Córdoba (right) after the pair were reunited in Hollywood, Florida, on Tuesday
‘He immediately recognized me, he just cried, he hugged me and told me, ‘You’re the angel that I was waiting for,’ Córdoba told Colombian news magazine Semana.
Roldán told Telemundo 51: ‘(I felt) all the joy, an explosion of emotions that one cannot describe. I hugged her, cried, just seeing her I felt her, the smell, that’s all.’
Both are expected to return in the coming days to the family home in Medellín.
Authorities said he must have spent several days walking from downtown Miami to reach Hollywood, 20 miles away.
Roldán, who previously was diagnosed with mild depression, was advised by his mother to travel to Los Angeles in early July to visit his friend as a way to release some of the stress he had built up as a result of the coronavirus lockdown in Colombia. While there, the college student also got vaccinated for COVID-19.
His trip unraveled when he lost his belongings, including his wallet, personal documents and his cellphone, and on the advise of his friend Luisa Arias and his mother decided it was best if he returned promptly to Colombia.
On July 24, Arias dropped him off at Los Angeles International Airport where Roldán boarded a flight to Miami.
He landed at Miami International Airport around 5pm local time, but was not permitted by American Airlines personnel to continue on to Medellín because he did not have the proper document that indicated he had tested negative for the coronavirus.
Miguel Ángel Roldán was hospitalized at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood on Tuesday and was treated for dehydration
Alejandra Córdoba told the press that her son Miguel Ángel Roldán recognized her right away and told her she was the angel he had been waiting all along after he had spent an entire month wandering through the streets of Miami and Hollywood, Florida
Surveillance cameras spotted Roldán exiting the airport before he disappeared out of the cameras’ view.
Córdoba said it took American Airlines nearly a week to respond to an inquiry about her missing son.
Since she did not have any relatives in the U.S., the Miami-based non-profit ‘Zona 33 Colombianos en el Exterior’ assisted in the search for Roldán, filed a police report August 14 and also hired a private investigator.
Zona 33 director Beatriz Sierra told Semana that Roldán had been spotted in Miami between the 5th and 8th of August. He had gone inside a hospital due to foot pain, but then left.
At one point he spent at least eight days in front of a restaurant begging for food.
‘They gifted Miguel food. We had a detective at the foundation who tried to follow his trail and he saw that they had kicked him from the restaurant where he had been for several days,’ Sierra said. ‘But he did not know if they had taken him out because he was asking for money at the place or for what reason it may have been.’