A 20-year-old woman finally got the chance to thank the “savior” that rescued her from a dumpster as an infant.
In October 1995, Morgan Hill was tied up in a trash bag and left to die in a back alley Hoffman Estates, Illinois, dumpster by her birth mother – but a male construction worker walking by heard the baby and ran for help, saving her life.
Ever since Hill’s adoptive mother, Sandi Hill, told her the story two years ago, she has been searching for the “guardian angel” that discovered her.
On April 16, Hill reunited with the mystery hero – 66-year-old Garold “Rocky” Hyatt – who said that he “never stopped thinking about” the baby he had saved years ago.
“A week of my life didn’t go by that I didn’t wonder about her,” Hyatt, who lives in Eminence, Kentucky, tells PEOPLE. “So when we met it was like I had known her my whole life, like we weren’t strangers.”
Hyatt explains that on that fateful day back in 1995 he was hesitant to even look in the dumpster, afraid it might have been a wild animal.
“But boy am I glad I did,” he says. “I ran to a neighboring hospital about 300 yards away for help. The nurses came outside and then rushed her to the emergency room. I went with her.”
The baby girl, named Mary Grace by hospital staff, remained in the hospital for three days – and Hyatt stayed by her side the entire time.
“I wasn’t able to adopt her myself, I traveled for work and wasn’t home during the week,” he says. “But I was the one to hand her off to social workers at the hospital, I left them with my business card and a letter explaining that if she ever wanted to get in touch with me, she could.”
The infant was quickly adopted by Sandi Hill, who changed the baby’s name to Morgan and decided to keep her daughter’s past a secret until she was old enough to understand.
Two years after Hill’s mother explained the story to her, she was able to track down Hyatt with the help of a Kansas City, Missouri, local news outlet, KSHB.
The tearful reunion, which took place in April, was “like a dream.”
“It kind of felt like being reconnected with a long lost father,” Hill, a college student in Cary, Illinois, tells PEOPLE. “Tears poured down my face when we met. He gave me the chance to live and for that I am forever grateful.
“All I could say was ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you!’ ”
Hyatt’s first words to Hill when he saw her were “You are so loved!” He then gifted her with newspaper clippings and photographs he’d kept since 1995, telling Hill’s mother she did a “great job raising Morgan.”
“Everything I gave her showed how the community and the nation and her adoptive parents reached out to this little girl,” he says. “I wanted her to know how loved she was at the time.”
But Hill’s favorite present from her hero was a gold angel pin.
“Rocky was given the pin 20 years ago for being a guardian angel to me,” she says. “He gave me that pin and I’ve worn it every single day since.”
Hill and Hyatt have stayed in contact since their heartwarming reunion – and the two plan to keep in touch.
“I told her, I don’t want to crowd you but now that I’ve found you I don’t want to lose you again!” says Hyatt. “Our families have become great friends and we all have love for each other.”
“Seeing him for the first time and hearing him tell the story was the first time I really believed it myself,” says Hill. “I’m grateful and beyond blessed for this hero of a man.”