A man and his 5-year-old son turned into amateur detectives when they found a mucked-up camera at the bottom of a small stream while chasing snakes in the Adirondacks last month and returned it to the owner who had lost it three years ago.
John Noerr, 39, discovered that the digital camera's memory card was still intact with 581 photos on it that could be used as clues to hunt down the camera's owner.
"Opening the card was fascinating," Noerr told ABC News. "The very first picture, I imagined that it was the first picture that he took. All the way to the last picture. That was of rushing water."
One photo was of a purple door; another showed a woman in front of a house numbered 327; and another showed a street sign reading 3rd Street. He deduced that the photos were taken in New York City, and turned to Google Streetview to get to the bottom of it.
“I toured every 3rd Street in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan," Mr Noerr told the Herald Sun, “Then I saw a sign for that bagel shop, took a left and there it was, that purple door.”
“There were a lot of dead ends I followed,” he told the Post-Star.
The door existed in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn and, after finding the house numbered 327, he found the building's owner using tax records.
According to the Post-Star, he searched the last name on the tax records — Comeau — and found a woman. She turned out to be the sister of Michael Comeau, the camera's owner, and mentioned that he had lost a camera years ago. Noerr then got in touch with him.
"I thought it was a miracle," Comeau told ABC News, "I had wondered what happened to that camera. Is it floating out there somewhere?"
Comeau had been standing on a bridge in 2009 taking pictures when he fumbled and the camera went flying into the water. He told ABC News that there was a photo on the camera that he was particularly glad to get back — one he took of his late mother.
“There was a moment it could have belonged to any number of 7 billion people,” Noerr told the Post-Star, “Then, there was a moment when it belonged to just one.”