Social media reunites camera, owners

August 6, 2013

By Erin Hoffman

As a paddle board instructor, Sharon Ilstrup is used to finding junk in Lake Sammamish. But on July 15, she discovered something a little more valuable: a waterproof camera.

Ilstrup turned on the Cannon PowerShot waterproof digital camera and found about 50 pictures of a family outing that had survived being left in the water. Instead of leaving the camera, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I didn’t think twice about keeping the camera,” she said.

Contributed Katie Dunivan, Sharon Ilstrup and Luke Dunivan (from left) meet at Marsh Park, in Kirkland, where Ilstrup returned the Dunivan’s lost camera she found at Lake Sammamish State Park.

Katie Dunivan, Sharon Ilstrup and Luke Dunivan (from left) meet at Marsh Park, in Kirkland, where Ilstrup returned the Dunivan’s lost camera she found at Lake Sammamish State Park.

When she got home, she uploaded six pictures to a Facebook album entitled, “Found Camera,” hoping someone would recognize the people she dubbed, “Grammy,” “Pappy” and “The Uber-Attractive Couple.”

The album was shared more than 100 times by friends and family, and Ilstrup was surprised when nobody claimed it. However, Ilstrup’s social media detective work got a boost when KOMO news picked up the story. About an hour after the story aired on July 23, someone called to claim ownership.

The camera belonged to Ken Graves, known to Ilstrup and Facebook as “Pappy.” His wife, Theo, the “Grammy” in the pictures, recognized the family photos on the news, and Ilstrup was put in touch with “The Uber-Attractive Couple,” the Graves’s daughter Katie Dunivan and her husband Luke Dunivan. The Dunivans and Ilstrup, both Redmond residents, arranged to pick up the camera at Marsh Park, in Kirkland, as the Graves lived too far away to justify the drive.

“It felt great. What a huge, huge surprise,” Luke said of getting the camera back. “You never expect to have someone find you based on pictures.”

“They’re the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Ilstrup said. “They were really, really thankful.”

In the process, Ilstrup got the whole story — the family was at Lake Sammamish State Park July 15 to celebrate Katie’s 30th birthday when they dropped the camera in the water.

The gathering was the last family get-together before Katie’s brother’s family relocated to Spokane, and everyone was relieved to have the pictures back.

“We’re happy our family is able to keep those pictures,” Luke said.

While Ilstrup was glad to be able to return the camera, something still bothered her.

“This shouldn’t be news,” she said. “This should be a normal, everyday occurrence.”

Ilstrup was surprised by the amount of media attention she received just for finding the camera; apart from the KOMO news broadcast, ABC News also aired a story.

“Someone said to me, ‘It’s not like you found a baby,’” Ilstrup said. “But those pictures are irreplaceable.”

She speculated that the story was getting so much attention because it was “just nice.”

“With all the news that’s coming out lately, people need something cute and happy,” she explained.

But whether or not the story should be news, the Graves family, the Dunivan family and Ilstrup are enjoying their happy ending.

“We are now Facebook friends and we’ve communicated back and forth about the coverage and how crazy it has been,” Luke said.

Ilstrup added that Theo also posted a nice, long thank-you note about how grateful she was to have the camera back. Ilstrup, has also offered to teach them all how to paddle board, an offer Luke says they will take her up on.


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