Sunken mystery: Woman finds camera in lake, searches for owner

Update: Mystery solved! Within minutes of the story airing on KOMO News Tuesday evening, Theo Graves called to claim it. Family members went and retrieved the camera Tuesday night. Graves said she and her husband lost the camera last week while they were paddle boarding on the lake.

SAMMAMISH, Wash. -- Some people take to the water to search for buried treasure. In Sharon Ilstrup's case, the treasure found her.

"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 on the Eastside. "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."

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.

"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.

As of Tuesday -- a week after she made the discovery -- the mystery still hadn't been solved, but Ilstrup hadn't given up hope of getting the camera back to its original home.

"A camera's a camera but those photos are priceless," she 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."