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Detroit man gets GoPro back after it's lost at sea near Boca Raton

Posted at 11:15 PM, Oct 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-05 05:45:50-04

Thomas “Cory” Buckalew thought he would really never see video that he shot with his GoPro off the Boca Raton coast, after he lost his GoPro while scuba diving with his son in mid-August.

“I was really distraught about the whole thing. There were some fantastic pictures on there that I knew I just couldn’t replace,” said Buckalew, who is from the Detroit area in a YouTube video he posted. 

Buckalew was in Boca Raton with his family, selling his late grandfather’s condo.

“I have this philosophy in life that I give back if I can,” said Alan Afrow, 74, in an interview from the lobby of his Boca Raton condo.

A month later, post-Hurricane Irma, Afrow and his wife were doing their daily pre-dawn walk on the beach near Spanish River Park in Boca Raton.

“Embedded with the seaweed was this small camera. I picked it up and figured I would bring it over to the police station.  A couple days later, I did,” Afrow said.

“It was a GoPro and that is worth a little money and there was probably a way to find the owner by going inside and getting the SIM card,” said Officer Rosalind Gualtieri in an interview.

“It was an amazing story of how they were able to locate me all the up in Detroit,” said Buckalew.

There was one image that was the key to the investigation.  Buckalew had accidentally snapped a shot of himself with the GoPro, trying to see if it was working. 

Thankfully it was.  He was wearing a red Boy Scout shirt, representing Troop 1736, based out of Wayne, Mich., which was printed on the breast area. It was difficult to make it all out. 

Through meticulous investigation, Boca Raton police was able to decipher all four digits of the troop. 

“We called the headmaster of the troop in Michigan and was able to make contact. We sent him an image of the gentleman that was looking at the camera. He immediately knew exactly who it was,” Officer Gualtieri said.

Buckalew is an assistant headmaster with Troop 1736 and his son is a boy scout.

The two men are now connected through that GoPro. Afrow’s good deed leads to another one.  He received a lifesaving kidney 25 years ago.

 “(Cory Buckalew) was going to send me a certificate and I told him I’m not interested. It was my pleasure. Instead he donated to a local organ bank in my honor. It was very touching,” Afrow as he choked up.

The GoPro is now in the mail headed back to Buckalew.