Cassie Woods and her husband Simon never thought they would see pictures of their dream vacation in the Dominican Republic after their kayak rolled over, and their Hero 4 GoPro waterproof camera disappeared among the waves of the Caribbean Sea in April 2018.
However, after spending 18 months underwater, the camera was picked up by another British tourist while snorkeling, and he vowed to hunt down its owners.
Having given up on ever finding the missing photos, Cassie Woods, 34, was “completely shocked” to find her vacation snaps posted on a lost-and-found Facebook group in March this year.
Eagle-eyed snorkeler Ryan Friday-Swann, 36, had shared the pictures online hoping someone might recognize the couple and help him to reunite them with their memories.
“I couldn’t believe it," Woods said.
"A friend sent me the link to the post with our photos and I saw the messages when we were in the middle of work and I thought, that can’t be true. It is just amazing.”
The Facebook page — Lost Box — put Friday-Swann and Woods in touch, and she was thrilled when she finally got her photos (and the neglected camera) in the mail.
Woods and her partner Simon, 37, went on vacation to the Dominican Republic almost two years ago, and had been using the GoPro for swimming, sailing, and horse riding. While kayaking with the camera, Woods encountered a big wave and the GoPro fell from her neck and sunk down into the sea.
She had no luck when she tried to search for, so she and Simon decided to give up.
The couple told the staff in the hotel about the camera, but didn’t hear anything back.
“Honestly we had just given up. We just thought it was lost forever," Woods said. “We always joked that if someone were to find it they would have thought we had drowned, because I lost it when we rolled the kayak.”
Woods had posted online about the lost camera, but that was almost two years ago. Then, in September 2019, Friday-Swann was on his honeymoon with his wife Ani when they stumbled upon the GoPro. Friday-Swann was snorkeling when he saw what he thought was a camera, so reached down and grabbed it.
The Go Pro had not traveled far from the resort in Punta Canta where Woods and her husband had been staying.
“We opened up the casing and it was full of water and sludge. I let it sit and let it dry out for a couple of days in the hotel room," Friday-Swann said. “We brought the camera home and took the memory card out. It was covered in muck so I had to do a little bit of soldering. Amazingly, all the photos were fine.”
Friday-Swann and his wife moved to Northern Ireland in December last year, and forgot about the memory card until they were clearing out some moving boxes.
“We listened to some of the video and we heard the girl talking and she sounded like she was from the north," he said.
Friday-Swann then posted some of the pictures from the camera on the Facebook page Lost Box, a group that tries to reunite found items with their owners.
He asked if anyone recognized the couple and was taken aback by the response, with over 1,000 users sharing the holiday shots.
“After being underwater for over 18 months it would be wonderful to get them back to their original owners!" he wrote online.“If they are yours, or you know who they are, please drop me a message. Thanks everyone!”
After just a day, Facebook users had tracked down Woods, who lives in Shropshire.
“I was amazed it was so quick. I couldn’t believe it," said Friday-Swann. “We were literally halfway around the world and managed to find their camera… I was really happy that the camera worked in the first place. We were there on our honeymoon and we would have been devastated to have lost our photos."
He soon sent over the photos and the damaged camera in the mail, much to Woods' delight.
“It just shows that there are really kind people out there. To go to all that effort to get it back to us is really touching," she said.