GoPro videos blew up in popularity almost as soon as they hit sites like YouTube. The footage captured from strapping the tiny camera to bicycles, planes, heck, even sharks, was too intriguing not to watch.
Max Werenka, a 13-year-old from British Columbia, used his GoPro to capture footage that had the local law enforcement astonished. In fact, it quickly brought the boy face to face with officers who were demanding answers.
When Max Werenka woke up one summer morning in August 2019, he had no idea his world was about to be turned upside down with a simple venture out into the water with a GoPro camera.
The 13-year-old and his family lived in Revelstoke, British Columbia, a quaint town that came to life every time the warm weather rolled around. One particular spot was a crowd favorite.
Griffin Lake was one of the most happening spots in town. It was a gorgeous area with a sprawling beach for people to lounge out and soak up the summer. The Werenka family even ran a business nearby.
They rented out cabins to people who wanted to spend a little outdoor time around Griffin Lake and the surrounding nature. Max often spent his time around the water, as well, driving his boat and fishing for local catch.
One sunny summer morning, Max prepped all his fishing equipment in his boat just off shore and prepared to enjoy the next few hours, Griffin Lake style. While cruising around the water, he came a across a startling sight.
There was a massive object lying on the lake bottom he never saw during any of his trips before. As he got closer, he realized it was something that should not have been there! He sped his boat directly home.
He’d seen a car, and he told his mother about it, but she wasn’t as concerned. She knew back in 2009 there was a car that crashed into the lake, but the situation was taken care of by police. Still, she wasn’t sure.
So she mentioned it to a local Royal Canadian Mounted police officer the next day just in case, and he gave her some startling news. The car from the 2009 crash was dredged out of the lake! This, of course, had big implications.
It meant the vehicle Max found was from a different accident! Police swarmed the lake, hoping to find out more about the car. Max joined the officers out at the location, but the sun’s glare made it impossible to see it!
Max, however, refused to let officers turn around and return at a later time. He had with him a GoPro camera, so he dove into the water and began his descent to the bottom.
At first, Max was afraid he took them to the wrong location, as he couldn’t see the vehicle anywhere. But, as he got a little deeper it all came into view. Was this the missing piece to a recent crime?
Max showed the police the footage from his GoPro, and just a few hours later, they had scuba divers ready to investigate. A tow truck was parked at the edge of the water and ropes were attached to the car.
Slowly, the tow truck pulled the car from the bottom of the muddy lake and onto the grassy bank. Everyone was shocked the vehicle was never found by anyone up until that point.
After a few careful hours, the officers finally pulled the car onto shore. The metal was eroded, the front was damaged, and in the driver’s seat sat the deceased owner of the car.
After a thorough examination of the body, it was determined to be a woman named Janet Farris from Mill Bay, British Columbia. Incredibly, she went missing 27 years earlier on her way to a wedding.
Police believed, in 1992, her car jumped a guardrail into Griffin Lake while she was on her way to Alberta. Her family had no idea what happened for nearly three decades.
Corporal Thomas Blakney of the Revelstoke Royal Canadian Mounted Police was thrilled with Max’s discovery. “That’s good detective work on his part,” the officer said.
Although finding a deceased body is never a teenager’s idea of a great day on the lake, Max was happy the Farris family found closure. He knew that others with his sense of curiosity were giving families across the globe peace.
Rich Aloha was fresh off his 27th birthday when he set off for Foster Falls. He, like Max, was an avid hiker and diver who loved filming his adventures. This trip, though, was going to be different.
Back in 2009, Rich launched a YouTube channel for his adventures. He gained a following for his beautiful footage of places like Wekiwa Springs State Park. He even brings his cat along for the ride!
But in 2019, Rich wanted to try something a little different. He headed up to Chattanooga, Tennessee, with some scuba gear to explore Foster Falls. It seemed like just another adventure at the time.
A part of South Cumberland State Park, the 60-foot waterfalls are a popular destination for swimmers looking to cool off and snap a few pics. And because the pools are so deep, visitors lose things all the time.
Stowe Dryland Ski Camp
“I might be finding a drone, or an iPhone, maybe a GoPro,” Rich exclaimed at the beginning of his video. “And if I’m really lucky, I might even find some cash.” With that, he took the plunge into the murky depths.
Rich dove into the water near the fall. At first, the murky waters seemed to be devoid of any kind of treasure, but then Rich spotted something out of the corner of his eye.
There was a small black-and-gold bracelet lying there among the rocks. Rich took his new prize and placed it on his wrist before moving forward; there was more treasure to be found.
Next, Rich spotted a ring — maybe a wedding ring? — before diving even further. After locating a pair of sunglasses and a discarded turtle shell, he saw something much more valuable.
There, lying among the rocks at the bottom of the pool, was a camera. Excited, Rich snatched up the GoPro and returned to the surface, eager to see if there was any footage on it.
“We’ll review the footage and see if I can’t get that back to the rightful owners,” said Rich, closing out the video. “But this is definitely one for the books.”
As Rich left Foster Falls, he ran into a park ranger who shared some interesting information with him. It seemed a man named Richard Ragland had drowned there two years earlier. Rich’s heart sank.
Was there any connection to the items he found and Richard Ragland’s death? When he turned on the camera, he was dumbstruck. “I was going through the footage and sure enough, I just said ‘Oh my god, this is the guy,'” he recalled.
Slowly, Rich uncovered Richard Ragland’s backstory. He had grown up in Georgia and later served in the National Guard. Later, he found his calling as an actor. Fate intervened on a road trip with some friends in 2017.
Richard and his friends stopped at Foster Falls for a bit of exploring and when they came across the falls, they had to stop for a swim. That’s when Richard pulled out his camera and started filming.
The situation quickly got worse. Richard was getting pulled beneath the surface and struggling to breathe. One of his friends tried to pull him up out of the water, but it was too late.
They tried to revive Richard with CPR, but the effort was hopeless. Paramedics quickly showed up to take him to a nearby hospital, but once he had arrived, they pronounced him dead.
So, when Rich found the video of those final moments, he was heartbroken listening to some of Richard’s last words: “You start to not take your life for granted and not allow people to manage your life,” Richard said. “I didn’t want anybody to manage my life.”
Troubled, Rich made a bold choice: he located Richard’s parents to show them what he’d found. When they got the phone call, it must have brought some small comfort that they might finally have some answers into that unthinkable tragedy.
“The SD card was intact, all the footage was there. It was like an out of body experience,” said Richard’s mother. “What we’ve seen so far is Rich being Rich, living life to the fullest.”
New York Post
Richard’s mother was also grateful that Rich had sought them out: “For him to go through the effort to do his research, make numerous phone calls – he didn’t give up until he got in touch with us and that means the world to us.”
Though it captured a tragedy, the footage of their son brought some closure to Richard’s parents. They weren’t sure if they wanted to watch it at first, but they knew revisiting the past was sometimes necessary to heal. The opportunity would’ve have been possible without Rich Aloha.
Like Rich, Netherlands native Martijn van Oers found a loaded camera. Owned nearly a century prior, the old film inside couldn’t be developed with a USB cord. But that wasn’t a problem for him.
See, his Instagram account is loaded with photos that evoke raw emotion. There’s no denying he’s talented, and he’s always on the lookout for an opportunity to build on his already-impressive portfolio.
So when he saw a classic Zeiss Ikon 520/2 camerain a thrift store, he knew he had to have it. Amazingly, the camera looked like it hadn’t been used at all.
Martijn intended on giving the camera to his wife, who also loved photography, but before he did, he wanted to tinker with it. When he excitedly opened it up, he was shocked to discover that roll of film still inside.
Martijn did some research and learned the camera was built in 1929, and the film was from sometime between 1940 and 1970. He stumbled upon a real piece of history and intended on finding out as much as possible.
The old age of the camera and film meant the pictures on the roll — if there were any at all — were extremely tricky to develop but he had to try. So, he called up his buddy Johan to help with the process.
Johan invited Martijn over to perform the whole developing process in his kitchen. The process would take a long time, but both men knew if it yielded results it was worth every bit of effort.
They couldn’t inspect the film roll beforehand — exposing them to light would wash out any hope of developing the remaining photos — but that didn’t quell the guys’ excitement. Something, their guts told them, was on this roll.
The process felt gruelingly long for the guys who just wanted to see what was on the leftover film. In fact, at one point Martijn began drying the negatives with a blow dryer to finish quicker.
With the film developed and dried, the men finally had negatives they could expose to the light of day — if everything in the development process went well. Martijn grabbed the negatives and, with a projector, inspected the photos…
There were four pictures in total that contained enough detail to actually see what the person behind the lens captured. The first was a woman standing on a cement pathway that ran along a mountainside.
The second photo had the same woman, and it appeared she was on a bridge overlooking the ocean. Martijn and Johan stared in awe, unable to believe they successfully developed the decades-old film.
The third photo, again, had the woman walking along a steep cliff that led into the water. Was this woman the wife of the person who owned the camera? The men hoped at some point they’d figure everything out.
Finally, the fourth successfully developed photograph contained someone new. It was an elderly man who had the camera’s carrying case slung over his shoulder. He must have taken the photos of the woman. The puzzle pieces were slowly falling into place.
Still, he wanted to know where these pictures were taken. Turning to Facebook for help, Martijn shared the photos, and, to his amazement, one of his friends reached out with an interesting photo…
The photo was a Google Street View of Biarritz, France. Recognizing the spot from the photos, Martijn was convinced this was where the pictures were taken. However, he was totally unprepared for the next turn of events.
A Dutch woman named Marion Jurrjens (left) reached out to Martijn and told him she was the granddaughter of the man in the fourth photo! His name was Theo Lammers, she said, and he did visit Biarritz with his wife, Elisabeth Lammers-Berveling, at one point.
Although Marion was born in the Netherlands, she’d relocated to Canada in 2004. Even though it would be an expensive trip to personally deliver the photos, Martijn felt obligated to make it happen. So, he set up a crowdfunding page in hopes people would feel just as enthusiastic.
Lo and behold, they did! So he hopped a flight to Canada to reunite Marion with her grandfather’s camera. His wife may not have gotten a gift, but a mystery was solved, something a woman in Indiana understood all too well…
See, at the beginning of February in 2019, workers were hard at work tearing down the decrepit Jeffersonville High School. The former faculty supposedly hauled all valuables out of the building years before, but the construction crew stumbled across a long-forgotten cache.
Before bulldozing the rubble, one worker, fortunately, spotted this lost purse. Though covered in dust and grime, it appeared to be in fair condition. And based on its weight, the bag was filled to the brim with objects.
The workers took a break and decided to rummage through the bag. They expected to find some junk that teenagers stashed in the past few months, but nothing of the sort popped out. Instead, they gazed upon a bundle of objects from the early 1950s.
A few newspaper clippings confirmed the date, and the retro items inside matched the era perfectly. For example, the crew popped open a vintage tube of lipstick that must’ve belonged to a high school girl way back when. Underneath that was a clue to her identity.
Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools
A letter, carefully folded up, lined the bottom of the bag. Written to “Marty” from “Torchy,” it appeared to be some kind of love note! The message hinted at a love triangle, as both the writer and a boy named Paul wanted to take Marty to prom.
News and Tribune
The workers notified the school board, and together they tried to figure out the owner of the abandoned purse. Based on the personal information and date of the news clippings, they guessed it must have belonged to Martha Ina Ingham, class of 1955.
Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools
Miraculously, they were able to track down Martha, now splitting her time between Maryland and Florida, and ask her about the bag. The octogenarian confirmed she’d lost it long ago, and she revealed the dramatic story behind her love letter.
Facebook / Marty Ingham Everett
Reportedly, Martha — or “Marty” — was quite the catch back in the day. Both Paul and Torchy asked her to prom, but in the end, she decided to take an entirely different date: a boy named Carter Williams.
Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools
Martha’s and Carter’s relationship didn’t last past senior year, but the Jeffersonville alum was ecstatic to get her old purse and belongings back. They conjured up memories that hadn’t crossed her mind for decades.
Martha understandably had no interest in reviving this old romance, but there’s no denying that thoughts of high school flames stay with us. Coincidentally, half a country away, a Georgia woman learned a similar lesson while cleaning her house.
One chilly day in 2019, Ann Caldwell of Augusta, Georgia, decided to straighten up her house a little bit. But her spring cleaning threw her for a loop. Instead of bringing her ahead to the next season, one surprise took her back sixty years.
The older woman lived alone, so she knew just about every inch of her home. When she cleared out a cluttered drawer, however, an unfamiliar sparkle in the back caught her eye. She reached for it — and gasped.
It was a class ring! Judging by its gold sheen and black engravings, it held great sentimental value — except Ann had no idea how it got there. The inscription had the initials C.S. and indicated the owner graduated from Weatherford High School in 1959.
This information only heightened the mystery. While Ann lived in Georgia, Weatherford High was four states away in Oklahoma! She had serious doubts about whether she’d ever track down the owner, but Ann knew she had to try.
After a bit of research, Ann enlisted the help of Chad Wilson, the Weatherford Superintendent of Schools. Chad had access to all the records from the area but couldn’t make any promises about an answer.
Facebook / Kiwanis Club of Weatherford, OK
Chad got his hands on a yearbook from 1959, the same year on the ring. The only other information he had was the initials C.S., but luckily only one student in the 62-person senior class matched them.
Chad and Ann’s likely target was Coy Sullivan, who also was one of the three valedictorians of the class. It was a revelation, but the case hit a brick wall. Chad couldn’t find any current contact information for Coy. He wasn’t even sure he was alive!
Months passed by, and Chad almost gave up on the ring mystery. He still kept digging in his spare time, and one day he hit pay dirt. On Facebook, he came across the profile of Justin Sullivan, the adult son of Coy. Chad sent a message and held his breath.
Amazingly, Justin responded and confirmed that Coy was still very much alive! The elderly man remembered the ring well, too. He said that it was one of his most treasured possessions, and he always wondered what happened to it.
Ann was thrilled to hear that the ring’s owner had stepped forward. She immediately shipped it off to Coy’s home but also struck up a correspondence with him. More than anything, she wanted to know how a stranger’s ring from 1959 wound up in her house.
Together, they pieced together the answer. Ann’s late husband’s family used to run a laundry near Coy’s high school. At some point, he must’ve left the class ring in a pocket and sent that clothing out for washing.
The timing of Ann’s discovery was convenient, too. Coy had his 60th school reunion coming up, so he was excited to show off his long-lost ring at the ceremony. It’s funny how high school can make such an impact on us.
Clifton High School
For instance, Adrian Pearce and Vicki Allen were high school sweethearts, together for nearly 2 years. Sadly, like most romances, it eventually came to an end, but Adrian was left with a memento he’d never forget.
It was Vicki who ultimately ended the relationship, and Adrian hadn’t seen it coming. It was right before the holidays, so it was a rough time to break up, but Vicki insisted on giving Adrian the present she bought for him.
Spending Christmas without his beloved left Adrian heartbroken — so much so, that he refused to open the mysterious gift. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to toss it out, so he put it under his tree and left it there.
As years went by, Adrian fell in love once again, this time with a woman named Valerie. Having nearly forgotten all about Vicki, he married Valerie without hesitation and together they started a family.
But the one time a year that Adrian would think of his ex-girlfriend was right before Christmas, as he continued to put out the present that he never unwrapped beneath the tree. Naturally, his family deemed it a bit odd and wondered what it could be.
Years turned into decades, and even though Adrian had told his family that he would never open the present, they had finally had enough of the mystery. On the 47th year after the high school break-up, Valerie told him to open it already.
So on December 23 of 2017, Adrian wrote a Facebook post explaining the situation, which sparked a lot of interest from his social media friends. He finished by asking if anyone knew how to track down Vicki so they could reconnect and open the gift together.
As it turned out, one of Adrian’s friends from high school was friends with Vicki on Facebook, and he was happy to connect the two. Happy to hear from him, Vicki invited Adrian and Valerie to fly out and visit her home in British Columbia.
Of course, Adrian was both excited to see his old flame, whom he had long since forgiven, but he was nervous too. So much pressure built up around the present, what could it possibly be? Would Vicki and Valerie get along?
Nevertheless, the Pearces headed to western Canada where they finally caught up with Vicki. While live on CTV, Vicki admitted that she didn’t actually remember what was in the box, but she did recall the circumstances surrounding the present.
As she explained, she had been out shopping for a Christmas gift for her then-boyfriend Adrian when she ran into another guy named Wolf. They got to talking, and he ended up kissing her, but she didn’t pull away… in fact, she kissed him back!
Absolutely riddled with guilt, Vicki decided that the only fair thing to do was to break up with Adrian, but she still wanted to hand him the gift she had so carefully sought out for him. Forty-seven years later, here they were, ready to reveal what was inside.
With cameras all around, Adrian handed the present to Vicki to do the honors of unwrapping the gift. As soon as she peeled off the wrapping paper, her face turned red, and she muttered there was no way she would have given this to her boyfriend.
After much speculation surrounding what was inside the little package, it turned out to be a book, titled Love Is: New Ways To Spot That Certain Feeling. It was a collection of comic strips by Kim Grove, inspired by letters the author had written to her own husband.
While the book may not have been a teenage boy’s taste, it did have a clear message of love behind it, and that wasn’t all: when Adrian handed it back to Vicki, she opened the book and flipped the pages to reveal a personal note inside of it.
While Adrian preferred to keep the inscription private, he did announce that he would frame the book and its shiny blue wrapping paper as a memory to treasure forever. With that, Adrian and Valerie bade Vicki adieu and headed back home. Still, the story was far from over.
Unable to let go of the story itself, Adrian wrote a book about his experience. The live TV coverage of his meeting with Vicki gave him 15 minutes of fame, which he would use to promote The 47-Year-Old Present.
Aside from the book, Adrian also wanted to incorporate his story using another one of his hobbies – camera work. He announced plans to release a documentary, filmed by the one and only, that would cover what the book did not.
Unfortunately, not everyone was psyched about Adrian’s creative outlets. His own son called the entire story of his father holding onto a 47-year-old present from an ex-girlfriend “stupid.” Even Vicki said the whole ordeal was “a bit worrisome.”
It seemed like the story itself had given Adrian a sense of purpose and a source of inspiration. He was happy to have reconciled with his former love, and to have received some attention for refusing to give up on his dream.