Michigan Fisherman Catches 2-Year-Old Camera, Then Reels In Owner

PHOTO:Andre Monterio Da Rocha found this camera while fishing in Lake Michigan near Grand Haven, Mich. PlayCourtesy Andre Monterio Da Rocha
WATCH Fisherman Catches Missing Camera in Lake

A Michigan man caught a digital camera while fishing two years after it fell in Lake Michigan, the beginning of a mystery that took both legwork and luck to solve.

Andre Monterio Da Rocha of Ann Arbor told ABC News he reeled in an Olympus Stylus 710 point-and-shoot near Grand Haven during a fishing trip with friends Sept. 20. When a fish he struggled to catch fell off the hook, Monterio Da Rocha was surprised to find a camera in its place.

"I opened it to see if the memory card was still there, and it was all full of mud and mussels growing inside," he said.

The fisherman took the camera home, inserted the memory card into his computer and combed through 19 photos in search of clues of its owner. It was a photo of a golf tee sign for Mike's Family Pharmacy that would lead him in the right direction.

Michael Cook, owner of Mike's Family Pharmacy, told ABC News he received a phone call from Monterio Da Rocha but thought his story was "unbelievable."

PHOTO:Andre Monterio Da Rocha is seen here in this undated file photo holding a camera he found while fishing in Lake Michigan near Grand Haven, Mich.Courtesy Andre Monterio Da Rocha.
PHOTO:Andre Monterio Da Rocha is seen here in this undated file photo holding a camera he found while fishing in Lake Michigan near Grand Haven, Mich.

"He said he found the camera and I hung up on him," Cook said. "He called back and said, 'No, no don't hang up. It's true."

By happenstance, Cook had dinner the same night with friends from a boat trip he took two years ago. When he told the story to Dave and Deborah Hays, they realized their long-lost camera had been found.

PHOTO:This photo of a golf tee sign helped Monterio Da Rocha find the camera’s owner. Courtesy Deborah Hays
PHOTO:This photo of a golf tee sign helped Monterio Da Rocha find the camera’s owner.

Deborah Hays told ABC News she and her husband and their friends went sailing in August 2013.

"It fell out of my pocket initially," Hays said.

PHOTO:The memory card preserved 19 photos of Deborah Hays, her husband and their friends on a boat trip in August 2013. Courtesy Deborah Hays
PHOTO:The memory card preserved 19 photos of Deborah Hays, her husband and their friends on a boat trip in August 2013.

Considering the time that passed, Hays couldn't believe her luck.

"There's just a one in a gazillion chance that this could happen," Hays said. "To me, Andre's the hero because he was kind enough to return it to us."

Monterio Da Rocha said he's happy the camera is back where it belongs.

"The whole thing was amazing,” he said. “I'm glad I could give them back their memories."

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