Lost camera found; so is its owner

SAMMAMISH, Wash. -- A lost camera didn't take long to find its way home after a Washington woman decided to play detective.

Sharon Ilstrup was at one her favorite lakes - Sammamish - last Monday, when something caught her eye in the water. Smooth and silvery like a fish, about an inch of the object was poking up through the sand. She hopped down from her paddleboard and reached into the waist-deep water to pick it up.

"On a given day, I see tennis balls floating down the slough from the Marymoor dog park," said Ilstrup, an avid paddleboarder and instructor who lives in the Seattle area. "I see used diapers. I see large, plastic vodka bottles in a pile. I usually stop and pick those up. There's all kinds of things in our lakes."

"I thought, 'oh, it's a camera!' It's a pretty sweet camera. What a bummer," Ilstrup said. "I decided to hit the power button, and it worked."

Like a message in a bottle, the photos spoke to her.

"I scrolled through the photos and it struck a chord with me because there was a baby. There was a cute young couple and their friends," she added. "It just made me sad. All these first-time events are on this camera at the bottom of the lake."

Ilstrup put the camera in a waterproof bag, and then decided to go from paddleboarder, to private eye.

She turned to her social network to try to solve the mystery, uploading six distinct photos to a public album on her private Facebook page. The pictures were shared by friends, and then by friends of friends - about a hundred times in total.

On Tuesday, the Problem Solvers at Seattle's KOMO News showed the pictures. Within a few minutes, owner Theo Graves had called in to claim the camera.

"A camera's a camera but those photos are priceless," Ilstrup said. "I mean, it could've been the baby's first birthday party, so they may be the only photos from that day. They're very sweet and I just want to get the photos and the camera back to their owner."