Facebook Helps Woman Find Long Lost Photo of Her Boyfriend, a Victim of Oakland Fire

Saya Tomioka posted a plea, trying to locate the photo of her late boyfriend.

ByJoi-marie Mckenzie
December 11, 2016, 7:47 AM
PHOTO: Facebook helped reunite Saya Tomioka with this photo of herself with late boyfriend, Griffen Maddens, who lost his life in Oakland fire.
Facebook helped reunite Saya Tomioka with this photo of herself with late boyfriend, Griffen Maddens, who lost his life in Oakland fire.
Arken Avan/@newyorkfaces

— -- A Facebook miracle has happened after a mourning girlfriend turned to the social media network in hopes of finding a long lost photo of her late boyfriend.

Saya Tomioka posted an emotional plea last Sunday after her boyfriend, Griffin Madden, died in the warehouse fire on Dec. 2.

The Oakland Fire Department told ABC News that the warehouse, known as the Ghost Ship that housed artists' studios, was hosting a dance party when the deadly blaze broke out. 33 bodies were recovered by officials.

Tomioka asked her friends to share this status:

"This morning I remembered the first time I went to Times Square, June 16 of 2015," she began. "I cried, and we kissed. Some random photographer captured this very moment, this very kiss."

Tomioka said she never got the photographer's name after he "showed us the single beautiful snap shot that he was able to capture." The Los Angeles woman wrote that she wanted the photo as a "reminder of the brightest light of all--love."

Only four days later, that message reached New York-based photographer Arken Avan. He told ABC News that multiple people reached out to him, informing him of Tomioka's story.

"I decided to check my hard drive," he recalled, but added that he couldn't find the photo. He then searched another hard drive and almost didn't find the photo that just so happened to be in an incorrect folder.

Avan, 28, said he keeps his photos organized by date as the Kazakhstan native takes many photos. He had to sort through 2000 photos before he located this one.

"I found the photo. I was shocked," he said. "I couldn’t believe it. I was happy, but at the same time I was very sad."

At 3 a.m., Avan posted the photo on her Facebook chain, saying, "Miracles happen, Saya."

"I just pulled out my archive from last year and this was only beautiful picture I took that nice evening of June 15, 2016," he wrote. "I actually remember this moment, young lady was holding pretzel in her hand and young man had lipstick on his cheek. What a beautiful and adorable couple I thought at that moment and seen them kissing."

Avan added his condolences and told her he'd be posting more photos from that night.

The Queens, New York, photographer hopes that these memories will comfort her during this time.

"It’s good to be part of this," he said, "but it doesn’t matter when somebody's life is gone."

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events