Missing for Decades: Man Reunites with Border Patrol Agents

David Amaya, 37, was abducted by his father and taken to Mexico more than 30 years ago

Agents at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station spoke exclusively to NBC 7 San Diego Friday about finding a man in an Imperial Beach canyon and later discovering he was an American citizen who had been abducted as a toddler.

Agent Troy Matthews said around 9 p.m. on Oct. 30, patrolling agents found a disheveled David Amaya, 37, in Goat Canyon with several undocumented immigrants.

They learned Amaya had traveled several hundred miles from near Mexico City to cross the border into the United States.

Amaya told the agents he was an American citizen. Agents at the Imperial Beach station took initiative and looked into his case.

They found Amaya had a birth certificate out of Chicago, and were able to contact Amaya’s mother.

“I get a phone call, ‘Hey Sir, you’re not going to believe this. This guy is telling the truth. We contacted his mother. She’s been looking for him for over 30 years,’“ Agent Matthews said, describing the moment agents pieced everything together.

When they told Amaya they contacted his mother, Agent Matthews said Amaya was visibly overwhelmed with emotion.

“He kept looking around the room trying to make eye contact with somebody to verify. He was looking for the truth. When he realized it, he put his head in his hands and started crying,” Agent Matthews recalled.

Matthews told NBC 7 there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

“The most touching moment was when he said he was abandoned. His father told him his entire life his mother abandoned him and left him as a baby. The mother said, ‘Please tell him that’s not true. That’s not true. I’ve been looking for him,’“ he explained.

Imperial Beach Border Patrol agents say they were so touched by Amaya's story, they started a collection box for Amaya at the station. They raised about $175 and gave it to Amaya on Friday.

Amaya's story has received national attention, with many strangers coming forward offering donations to help cover travel costs for Amaya to finally reunite with his mother.

If you would like to donate to Amaya's fund, donations can be made at any Cabrillo Credit Union under the account name "David Amaya Barrick."

Additionally, donations can be mailed to:

Cabrillo Credit Union
Re: David Amaya Barrick
10075 Carroll Canyon Road
San Diego, CA 92131

You can also wire money to Cabrillo Credit Union:

Attn: David Amaya Barrick
Routing number: 322274488

In support of David Amaya Barrick and the agents from the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station, Cabrillo Credit Union donated $250 to get Amaya started.

More NBC 7 stories:

Contact Us