When Coral Amayi lost her digital camera in a Colorado river 13 years ago, she thought she'd never see it again. Little did she know that in 2023, she'd be reunited with her precious photos, all thanks to the actions of a complete stranger.
In 2010, Amayi embarked on a tubing trip down the Animas River with her friends, who had recently tied the knot. During the excursion, Amayi flipped out of her tube. She noticed too late that her camera was missing.
“When I got to shore, the small cord that attached the camera to the lanyard and floatation device had broken,” she tells TODAY.com.
The Arizona resident was bummed since the camera’s memory card held photos from her friend’s wedding and bridal shower. Amayi was hopeful that she might be able to fish it out at first, but soon realized the water was too deep.
“I walked back to my boyfriend’s house and was uncontrollably crying,” she says.
History repeated itself two years later when Amayi went on a rafting trip in Washington after another friend's wedding and lost yet another camera. A paddle caught her neck lanyard and threw her camera into the river.
"I was sad about losing that camera, too, because we had just been on a month-long road trip and I had a ton of pictures of the wedding and no computer around to upload to," she says.
Over the years, Amayi has thought about the two lost cameras at times and wished she had brought a waterproof version with her on both occasions.
Flash forward several years, and Amayi had given up hope that she'd ever see either of the cameras again. Enter: Spencer Greiner.
On March 14, Greiner was fishing in the Animas River when he suddenly discovered the first camera Amayi had lost, rusted and weathered by the rapids.
He plugged the memory card into a computer and realized that somehow, the photos were preserved.
“I was shocked that I was able to read the SD card to begin with! When I saw that the pictures were from a wedding and bridal shower I figured it was worth a go to try and find the owner,” Greiner tells TODAY.com.
The good samaritan posted some of the recovered photos in a Durango, Colorado, Facebook group March 15. Within an hour, the groom from the wedding commented on the post.
"I couldn’t believe that I was able to find someone in the photos so quickly," Greiner says.
A few days later, Greiner and Amayi were in touch, and the two discovered that they actually have mutual friends.
Amayi, who works as a sex education teacher, was in the bathroom at a conference center when she heard the news.
"I got up and was dancing around while washing my hands," she says. "I just needed to tell somebody right away. In the next breakout session, none of my coworkers were there so I started up a conversation with somebody and told them the story because I just had to get it out. It was too wild."
After all these years, Amayi couldn’t remember what photos were on the SD card, so she had a fun time reminiscing while looking through them.
Athough Greiner’s kind deed has left a lasting impact on the life of a stranger, he doesn’t think what he did was that big of a deal.
"I don’t feel that what I did was anything anyone else wouldn’t have done," he says. "I knew those pictures were sentimental to someone. Taking five minutes to make a Facebook post was the least I could do. It turns out that was all that was needed."
Regardless, Amayi was touched by Greiner's actions. She hopes the story of the recovered camera inspires other people to take the extra effort to reunite lost items with their owners.
"It may seem insignificant to you but that lost earring may have been someone's treasure from their grandma, that hat may be the last thing someone’s brother gave them before they died," she says. "Most people would be thrilled to get an old wallet back even if they have already had to get new cards. If more people took time to care for others the world would be a better place."