In 1998, a woman found a newborn baby buried alive in the foothills of Altadena, California. The baby was only a few hours old, with his umbilical cord still attached. On May 16, Ryan Seacrest helped reunite Matthew Christian Whitaker and the woman who saved his life after he was buried alive as a newborn on a hiking trail.
For decades, Azita Milanian wondered what happened to the boy after he recovered at a Pasadena hospital and was adopted. When the mother of one of Whitaker’s friends wrote into the KIIS FM radio and explained his story, she asked for a 23andMe DNA kit so he could learn more about his ancestry.
Twenty years after Whitaker was saved, Ryan was the one who reconnected Matthew and Azita. Matthew, or Christian, as Azita calls him, was more than happy to share his story KIIS FM radio’s On Air With Ryan Seacrest.
When she met Matthew, Azita began to cry. She said he’s exactly who she imagined. “I was waiting for you. 20 years,” Azita said through tears while hugging him. Matthew held Azita and called her an angel.
“I was in the car with my godmom and she was like, ‘Has anyone ever told you the true story of how you were found?’ And I was like, ‘No’ and she was like, ‘Legend has it …’ and then she told me the story and I was just in awe and then I went home and did research and then I started telling everyone because I felt so cool that I survived the impossible,” Matthew explained.
Before the Ryan Seacrest’s radio show started, Azita waited in a nearby room. She was anxious as she held a bag filled with clothes that she brought for Matthew. There was a card in the bag, with an envelope reading, “Happy Birthday! Baby Christian Mountain Angel Mathew.”
“You’re exactly what I’ve imagined. I guessed your size, everything. Thank you for coming into my life, you changed my life. … I knew we were going to connect again,” she added. “The day I met him he confirmed my faith … God brought us together for a purpose,” Azita said through tears.
On the program, Azita shared the full story of how she found Whitaker on a Saturday night when she was invited to go dancing, but she changed her mind in the last minute and went running instead.
The hike that changed everything
On the day she found Matthew, a series of interruptions occurred that caused her to take a different hiking route for the first time in eight years. This also ultimately led her to Matthew.
“I was going to run 20 minutes and suddenly I felt like I was going to be sick like someone was choking me or throwing up, and I think it was exactly 10 to 15 minutes before that they were [burying Matthew],” Azita recalled. She also added that her dog was then acting strangely over the area where she’d soon find Matthew was buried.
“I went there and heard a noise and … Tango [the dog] was standing exactly over his head and I was saying, ‘Come on, let’s go! What are you looking at?’ And they wouldn’t move and I’m screaming at them and it was a bunch of bushes and suddenly Christian’s feet came out of the ground in front of my feet and I didn’t know it was his feet … so I dragged my dogs to go to the car and put the dogs in the car and God told me you have to go back and I went back and I was standing far away and I’m screaming loud, ‘God what is this? What is this? It’s like a human baby’s feet’ And he started crying and I moved the bushes and I opened the towel and I saw the umbilical cord attached,” Azita explained.
“I didn’t even know if it was boy or a girl and he was crying and I brought him out and I dug my nails in his nose and mouth and started taking the dirt out and all I said to you, [Matthew], was ‘Please don’t die. I will never leave you. I love you.’” The whole situation was very emotional for Azita. She couldn’t believe that someone would do something like that, with the child still having his umbilical cord hanging from his stomach.
At this point, everyone who was listening to Ryan Seacrest’s show was speechless. But Azita continued. After she found the baby, she ran to the car to dial 911. The ambulance didn’t arrive until 30 minutes later but baby Matthew never gave up.
“He was in my arm holding me,” she said. “He grabbed my wrist like this and he wouldn’t let go. … He was so strong. He was so strong-willed. We are both Tauruses — stubborn. Nobody can get rid of us!”
But back then, Whitaker’s situation wasn’t a joke. His body’s temperature had fallen to 80 degrees, and when he arrived at the hospital, he was treated for severe hypothermia. It seems like the baby’s size (Matthew weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces) helped him survive.
Azita didn’t adopt him herself because she worried someone could easily find him because she’s been on the news. But after finding Whitaker, she started a nonprofit organization that helps orphan children around the world called Children of One planet.
At the end of the interview, Matthew concluded that he is grateful for Azita and invited her to attend his forthcoming graduation from the University of Arizona. Seacrest picked a perfect day to reunite them as it also happened to be Matthew’s birthday and exactly 20 years from the date he was found.