"I knew those pictures were sentimental to someone. Taking five minutes to make a Facebook post was the least I could do."
I'm pretty sure if you've lived through the 90s, you know the soul-crushing disappointment of realizing you've lost your camera. You know, the disposable camera that you had to crank the little spinny wheel on so you could snap the next picture. That trip to Disney—gone. Your sister's bat mitzvah—poof.
It was a frustrating reality for way too many of us, but with the invention of the digital camera, which came with a fancy wrist strap, we could count on our memories being safe. Unless you were going tubing on the river after your friend's wedding and hoping to snap some cool shots of everyone relaxing. Oh, and unless your name is Coral Amayi.
Amayi was floating in the Animas River with some friends in 2010 when she fell off of her tube and into the water, where her camera decided to take up residence for 13 years. She had just taken snapshots at her friend's wedding, so the memory card on her camera held a lot of important memories. Amayi was expectedly crushed.
“When I got to shore, the small cord that attached the camera to the lanyard and floatation device had broken,” Amayi told Today.com. “I walked back to my boyfriend’s house and was uncontrollably crying.”
It really stings to lose memories that are important to you and the bottom of the river is a place lost items are nearly guaranteed to never reemerge. Except, Amayi did get her photos back. It took 13 years, but through random happenstance, a fisherman found the old digital camera. And the best part is, the memory card was still intact and readable.
Spencer Greiner found the missing camera in the river on March 14, and after investigating the memory card, he decided to post the photos on Facebook in hopes of finding the owner.
“I was walking along and saw it sticking out of the sand,” Greiner told Denver's KDVR. “It was in rough shape, so I really didn’t have any hopes of getting anything off of it, I was just planning to throw it away, and then curiosity got the best of me, and I had to see what was on it.”
“I was like ‘yeah, this is probably not going to work at all,'” Greiner explained to KDVR. “But I plugged it into the computer, and it read immediately and I was like ‘oh cool, let’s see what sort of treasures we’re going to find on this memory card.'”
After posting the pictures in a Durango Facebook group, Greiner actually got a fairly quick response to his list of questions that accompanied the photos. The groom from the 2010 wedding identified himself, and his wife then got in touch with the owner of the camera.
Thanks to Greiner's detective skills and determination, Amayi was reunited with the long-lost photos of a 22-year-old version of herself. With the condition the camera was in when it was found, it's a miracle anything at all was recovered.
You can see Greiner open up the silt-filled camera below: