Before a travel YouTuber named Rich Aloha went scuba diving at a waterfall in Tennessee, U.S.A. he filmed himself saying he planned on doing “treasure hunting” in the water, and he expected to possibly find a drone, iPhone, or GoPro. Instead, he found an SD card that may provide some closure for a family mourning the death of their son.
Aloha told WSB-TV that park rangers had told him to be on the lookout for anything that may have belonged to a man who drowned a couple of years ago. Richard Ragland died while swimming with friends at the Foster Falls State Park in June of 2017.
The then-22-year-old had been a National Guard soldier and was known to be a good swimmer, so his father was especially surprised by the tragic event. A friend reportedly tried to rescue Ragland when they noticed he didn’t come up from the water.
Aloha filmed himself diving in the same waters where Ragland drowned. The footage shows him shouting excitedly underwater when he dug up a GoPro. It was buried and at first, he only saw the tip of the thumbscrew sticking out.
He told WSB-TV that he later checked the footage on the SD card and realised the GoPro documented the last moments of Ragland’s life.
“I was going through the footage and I said, ‘Oh my God, this is the guy,’” Aloha told WSB-TV.
He then tracked down Ragland’s parents, Robin and Gary McCrear, and gave them the SD card which had remained undamaged in the GoPro. Robin told WSB-TV that seeing the footage of her son was an “out of body experience.”
“For him to go through his efforts to do his research, make numerous phone calls, he didn’t give up until he got in touch with us and that means the world to us,” Robin told the news outlet.
Robin and Gary told WSB-TV they’ve had lingering questions about their son’s drowning. Soon after Ragland died, a park ranger sent the McCrears a letter that was supposed to have a USB that contained footage of Ragland recorded by someone else, but when they opened the envelope, they were heartbroken to find that it appeared as if someone had stolen the thumb drive.
Two years later, in an almost spooky twist of fate, a drive with actual footage of their son did arrive. At first, the McCrears only watched some of the early footage on the SD card, which shows “Rich being Rich, living life to the fullest,” Robin told WSB-TV.
They said they plan to one day watch the final moments so they can hopefully gain a better understanding of what happened to their son.