DSLR Lost for 3 Years in Creek Finds Way Back to Owner Thanks to Photos

How long can photos stay alive inside a Canon Rebel DSLR sitting at the bottom of a muddy creek? A crazy new lost-and-found story suggests that the answer is at least 3 years.

The story, first reported by John Alexander over at PostStar, is fit for a Sherlock Holmes short story.

Last month, Vermont resident John Noerr stumbled upon a Canon XT DSLR sitting on the bottom of a small creek. When tried accessing the beat up memory card inside, he was surprised to find that it still worked.

There were 581 images on the card, with the most recent one dating back to June 2009 — the camera had been sitting lost underwater for roughly three years.

This is where the story gets interesting. Noerr then put on his detective hat and realized that he might be able to locate the owner using details from the photographs — photos that included glimpses of urban scenes, people, and signs.

Using two photos showing a house number and a street sign, Noerr was able to locate the neighborhood on Google Street view.

He then looked up public tax records, which revealed the last name of the house’s owner.

Finally, Noerr searched for the last name on Google, leading him to a Twitter account of a woman whose profile photo matched one of the self-portraits on the camera.

His message to the woman? “I think I found your camera in a stream in the Adirondacks”

Turns out it was the woman’s brother, Michael Comeau, who had lost the camera back in 2009 after dropping it from a bridge during a camping trip.

Just like that, a crusty camera found at the bottom of a creek was transformed from a piece of junk to a time capsule of precious photos.

Update: After having the camera shipping to him, Michael created this unboxing video:

Image credit: Photograph by John Noerr

  • Samcornwell

    I’ve been to the Adirondacks! It’s stunning there! I know that’s got nothing to do with the post, but I wanted to share.

  • Dennis Symons

    I believe in SanDisk cards and even believe in them more now.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    quite scary how easy you can track a person down by just using a couple of details in some photos with the help of google maps and public tax records. Awesome that he was just doing it to get the camera/images back to the owner but jeez – the creepier side to this worries me

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    Anyway, does this say more about the cameras ability to protect the memory card or more about the memory cards ability to protect images?

  • Rhaz

    Pretty cool story, and glad the camera is back in the owner’s hands. But on the same token, goes to show how everyone should be aware of how easy it is for others to find you through social media and other means. Not necessarily a bad thing, but just be mindful. Cheers!

  • Stewart Doyle

    Good endorsement for the ability of the camera to protect the card, and the card to protect the images.

    Personally, and because I’m THAT kind of nerd, I would have attempted to repair the camera before even checking the functionality of the card…

  • photocam

    you used to hear stories aboum FM2s and PEntax Spotmatics surviving things like this, but of course a modern camera never would!

  • Tybee Jim

    Try this with your Nikon! (i know the camera has no bearing, but couldn’t resist)

  • Zak Henry

    Having seen one moments ago I can confirm that they do in fact exist.

  • Doctor Octothorpe

    Make it easy for a kind soul to return your camera/memory card: make the first image on every card a photo of your name & contact info.

    Great story. It’s good to hear the lengths people will go to reunite others with their lost property.

  • Lala

    Several years ago, I found a Lexon flash drive underwater, it had been there at least a year, and worked just fine after it dried out. It had no pics. It still works!

  • 9inchnail

    But that wouldn’t be as much fun as doing research and actually find the owner that way.

  • Steve Griffin

    A Pentax K-5 would probably still work along with the card. Great report, thanks.

  • Justin Javellana

    Good one!

  • Jishnu Vediyoor


  • Madman

    I was going to say… Seems to me scandisk deserves the credit given to cannon in the article.

  • Doctor Octothorpe

    LOL. It’s amazing how much work that guy put into it. It’s very impressive.

  • Eka Gaurangga


  • Nuno Duarte


  • Nuno Duarte

    What about the EXIF data on the files, isn’t that enough? All my photos have EXIF data with my email and mobile phone.