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Hero Ex-Con Saves Baby From Crawling Onto Georgia Highway

06/17/2014 06:09 pm ET | Updated Jun 17, 2014

When Bryant Collins was in prison, he vowed to become a better man. This week, the former convict has been hailed a hero after he rescued a lost toddler from wandering onto a Georgia highway.

According to NBC affiliate WXIA, Collins -- who spent 10 years in federal prison for manufacturing cocaine -- was driving Friday when he spotted a 1-year-old girl crawling dangerously close to Highway 72.

"I had seen something out of the corner of my eye, and I thought it was a baby," Collins told the news outlet. "I just stopped and, when I got out, there was a baby -- almost in the highway."

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, the toddler was crawling along the fog line of the highway when she was spotted. Authorities say the girl had wandered some 300 yards from home, crawling through the woods and falling down an approximately 15-foot embankment before reaching the major roadway.

Once he spotted the tot, Collins said he stopped his car and carried her to safety before calling 911. Collins reportedly entertained the child for two hours, playing gospel music on his phone to calm her down.

The Banner-Herald reports that the girl had multiple insect bites and scratches, but was otherwise unharmed following her long crawl away from home. Madison County Sheriff Kip Thomas said it's "almost a miracle" the child survived the ordeal.

The girl's father, 37-year-old Timothy Pickens, was reportedly arrested after a scuffle with police. The baby's mother said the girl had wandered off after being left in the charge of her older siblings, the Banner-Herald reports.

As for Collins, now an auto repairman who has reportedly been clean for five years, he says he feels really good about doing something positive for the world.

"When I was in prison, I made a very conscientious effort to change, and I did," he told WXIA. "It made me feel good that I could be in society and do good."

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