Florida Reporter Uses Facebook to Reunite Surfer With Missing Camera


A Florida surfer is thanking Facebook users for the return of the underwater camera that he lost while surfing off a Jacksonville beach. The camera had drifted to the bottom of the ocean and washed up on shore more than seven months later.

Andy Walker was surfing near South Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. on April 4 when his waterproof GoPro camera, attached to his board via an adhesive mount, suddenly slipped off. He told ABC Jacksonville affiliate WJXX that he thought the $500 camera was lost and gone forever.

"I walked the beach a little bit hoping it would wash ashore, but I knew better than to get my hopes up," he said.

It wasn't until 7 months later that it was discovered on the shoreline by none other than Claire Simms, a reporter at WJXX. She says that though it was covered it sea goo, she recognized what it was almost immediately.

"We use them for our news coverage, so I knew what it was, and what it was supposed to look like. It had been in there a while," she told ABCNews.com.

Though the camera was no longer waterproof, Simms and her fiancé cleaned the SD card with alcohol wipes from their first aid kit, and the video of Walker popped up.

Simms said that when the camera fell off it stopped recording and that the video she found wasn't anything spectacular - mostly Walker kicking on his board and waiting to catch some waves. But she did manage to get a screen grab of him looking back at the camera, and with that, decided to reunite the mystery surfer with his missing electronics.

Simms decided to enlist the fans of her station's Facebook page to crowd source the task of finding out who the surfer might be. Using the hashtag #WhereDidItGoPro, the social networking community was able to identify Walker within an hour.

Once he was reunited with his camera, Walker told Simms that he was surprised it survived after so long.

"Seven months in the ocean, four hurricanes. Yeah, I mean, I'd say it's in pretty good shape," he said.

Walker said the he blames his "cursed" surfboard for the loss of the camera in the first place. It is supposed to stick to a surface, but the finish board was likely too rough for it.

Though he was reunited with his no-longer waterproof camera, Walker's story had an even happier ending when he was presented with a brand new GoPro camera by Simms, who had contacted the company and explained what had happened. He said that he plans to try to film himself catching more waves in the future.

"I need to send GoPro a very nice thank you," Walker said.