Photos Recovered from Waterlogged Camera Lost in River 13 Years Ago

Photos by Spencer Griener

A photographer recovered wedding photos from a waterlogged camera that she lost in a river in Colorado 13 years ago.

Coral Elise Amayi thought she would never see the photos that she took of her friends James’ and Holly Estelle’s wedding again when she lost her Olympus 790 SW camera on a rafting trip in Animas River, Colorado in July 2010.

Amayi was heartbroken about the loss of the precious photos that she had taken of her friend’s wedding, and bachelorette party, as well as the rafting trip that she had just taken with the bride and groom.

However 13 years later, in 2023, Amayi’s point-and-shoot digital camera was retrieved from the mud of the Animas River by a stranger called Spencer Greiner as he was fishing.

Photo by Spencer Griener

When Greiner returned home, curiosity got the better of him and he decided to use a screwdriver to pry open the Olympus camera door to the memory card.

Although water flooded out of the camera, Greiner was left stunned when he miraculously managed to retrieve Amayi’s photos from the corroded SD card.

When Greiner saw the photos of a wedding and bachelorette party on the card, he knew he had to find the camera’s owner.

The Search for The Camera’s Owner

On March 16, Greiner posted the 13-year-old photos on a local Facebook group for Durango, Colorado asking: “Did you get married on June 12th 2010 in the Durango area? Did you have an ugly brown stretch station wagon at your bachelorette party? Do you recognize any of these people? If so please contact me.”

Within an hour, the bride and groom James and Holly Estelle recognized themselves in the photos. They immediately got in touch with Amayi, who is now based in Cochise, Arizona, and a week later, she was reunited with her long-lost photos.

Greiner also returned the camera to Amayi. Although the device has been rendered unusable after over a decade in a river, she says the LED screen was not cracked.

The last photo taken on the camera

“These were photos I’d never thought I’d see again,” Amayi tells PetaPixel.

“I’m still just so blown away at the effort that Spencer Greiner made to find the owner of lost photos. Every item that someone finds was once someone else’s.

“Even if it may seem insignificant like a lost single earring that earring could be someone’s family heirloom. A lost hat could have been the last gift from someone’s father before they passed. Even an old lost wallet may hold significance to someone.

“I hope this inspires more people to take the time to help materials that are out of place find their way back home.”

Image credits: Photos courtesy of Coral Elise Amayi.