He removed his phone from his pocket with shaking hands.
His intention was to capture a loving moment of his family, but no one knew what was looming in the background of their family photo. How would he tell them without them freaking out about it? He knew that he only had one option.
The family had been planned this trip away for a while. Now, they had finally packed up their car for an exciting weekend getaway.
They were all ready for an adventure, and excited; the world was their oyster. But little did they know, their trip was going to come to an unexpected halt after discovering something surprising and utterly terrifying in their car.
For Erik Richter, the plan was to add plenty of miles to the speedometer while listening to a crazy rotation of favorite songs the family had collected.
There would be drive thru meals, rest stops with breathtaking views, and plenty of priceless memories. But there was one part of their coming trip that would leave everyone in tears.
For some kids, Spring Break is a time to escape the family and have a much-needed break from life.
But Erik was proud of the fact that their little clan would rather spend time with each other. So, this year, they would pile in their mini van and make the long haul to some national treasures – the first being the Grand Canyon.
Bit Of Chaos
A last-minute rush was expected, but his three daughters had started arguing over who the “blue sweater” belonged to.
They were going to be late, and Erik had planned everything down to a T. They had to get going. But, when he saw his wife going for the trunk, he panicked and raced out to stop her.
“Please get the girls going,” he begged his wife, pulling the suitcases from her hands and nudging her in the direction of the intense bickering.
Even in a close-knit family, arguments were to be expect, but at least they could do it in the van while they were making progress on the coming trek. Erik knew the first part of the plan was going to be the most important.
Finally, the family piled in the van, and they raced toward the highway.
The first round of songs was already blasting, and his wife Amber was studying the map and all the notations while checking the GPS. He glanced in the back mirror. It wasn’t the steady flow of traffic that quickly caught his attention and made his heart race.
It was something dark – and such a slight shift in movement that it didn’t catch anyone else’s attention.
But it was definitely there. Erik changed to the next lane. The dark thing moved again. His girls were giggling and talking about whatever show that were recently binging – obvious to what was looming there.
There was only one thing to do.
He took a deep breathe, put on his best calm face, flicked the turn signal and then took the next off ramp. When the GPS beeped that they were off course, his wife looked up from her phone in shock. “What are you doing?” she asked.
“I have to check something,” he said, trying to control his reactions.
Amber flashed him an annoyed look. “You were desperate for us to leave on time. We’ve check everything three times!” Erik pulled into the first free parking spot and rushed around to the back of the van. He lifted the door. Everything was where it should be. But he had to do one more thing.
He jumped back into the driver’s seat and pulled out his phone.
“Hey guys, quick family selfie!” The girls rolled their eyes and grinned, but still squished together for the impromptu family photo. The dark shadow in the back shifted again and rose from the luggage. Erik took a deep breath. It was time.
“Hey, Rowan, can you move to the side a little?”
The girls’ faces twisted in confusion. There was no “Rowan” in the vehicle. But when a new voice said, “Sure, no problem.” The girls spun around and screamed. His wife grabbed her chest and started to cry. The dark figure had finally made himself known.
Rowan was their son.
He was also in the Marines. Since joining, it had been harder and harder for him to join any family gatherings. As far as the girls and his mom was concerned, he was going to miss the Grand Canyon as well. But Erik and Rowan had hatched a wonderfully sneaky plan.
Under the guise of filling up the gas tank and picking up some last-minute things for the trip, Erik had rushed to the airport where Rowan had managed to catch a last-minute flight.
From the moment they had neared the house, and all they way to the sudden stop, he had been quietly and patiently hiding with the impressive discipline of his military training.
Erik’s wife was already crying as she raced around to the back flung open the door and wrapped her arms around her son.
“You gave me a heart attack!” she said. His daughters joined in, also shedding happy tears. Erik kept the camera rolling the entire time. There was just one more surprise.
Aside from being with them for the entire Spring Break, Erik and also snuck in a detour to visit the kid’s grandmother – who hadn’t seen Rowan in years. As the family took to the road again, the happy chatter now brought a tear to his eyes. It was, hands down, the best family vacation ever.
But this wasn’t the first time something unexpected was caught in a seemingly innocent photograph. One man took a photo of his wife and saw something strange in the background.
Peering through the lens, he could see the small orange waterlogged object still floating on the surface of the water. He suddenly jumped out of his seat, he thought he saw a pair of brown eyes stare back. He feared the worst.
He now knew the seriousness of the situation, he had to aid in any way he could, but what had stared back at him? How did it get out here in the ocean?
A Birthday Outing
Robin Knecht and her husband Bruce were from Odessa, Florida, and always celebrated a joint birthday with friends of theirs, Michael and Shawn Sahr. Like every year before, they planned on taking the boat out to the Gulf of New Mexico and enjoying a day on the waves.
But no one could have foreseen that this time they would be leaving in tears.
The two couples were already some distance from the shore and were ready to relax for their birthdays. The sun was peering just above the treeline, their champagne was still cool in the icebox, and the water was calm and tranquil. It was going to be a day to remember.
They didn’t think that anything could spoil their special day – they didn’t know how wrong they were.
Time To Fish
After they had watched the sunrise and the morning progress, Bruce decided to was time to fish. The fisherman took out his rod and wanted to try and catch something before lunch so the four of them could eat.
What Bruce didn’t know was that he would catch more than a fish on this trip and that he would certainly have a story to tell once he got home.
Something In The Photo
Bruce was an experienced fisherman, soon he had reeled in a fish and was happy that it looked big enough to feed to four. He took out his camera and handed to fish to Robin, his wife. He was going to take a photo of his catch.
Robin posed for the picture and Bruce got ready with the camera, but something that he noticed in the shot behind Robin made him jump back.
Upon Closer Inspection
Bruce now focused on what he had seen and zoomed in with the camera. He still couldn’t be sure, they needed to have a closer look. They moved the boat in closer to see what it could be. When they got to the desired distance they turned off the engine and slowly drifted a little closer at a time.
The object on the water was getting clearer now as they slowly got closer. Everyone was quiet in suspense and the only thing that broke the silence was the occasional wave that tapped the underside of the boat. Bruce thought that it was probably just flotsam or jetsam, but he couldn’t be sure.
Now that they were closer Bruce could now see something that he didn’t notice before, strands of long brown hair being moved by the current. With another meter now closed, they could see… limbs? There were arms and legs.
The object wasn’t moving, it was just giving in to the waves and the current. They all felt a twist in their stomachs. Was it too late?
Not A Buoy
They needed to get closer to investigate further. Bruce told reporters at ABC News, “We were going about 20 miles an hour… so it was hard to see.” The boat was now closer than ever to the mysterious object lying in the water.
No one was speaking, they all felt anxiety shoot through their bodies. Bruce whispered under his breath, “Please, let that not be a body.” The husband from the other couple they brought alone, Shawn, leaned over the edge of their boat to get a closer look, it seemed like the object was some kind of wet mass, and the limbs were clearer than ever now.
Relief For Now
The silence was broken by Bruce’s voice, he let out a sigh and said, “It’s just a stuffed toy.” They all laughed from relief and were ready to head back to their spot. But Bruce had no idea how wrong he was about the object.
Bruce fired up the engine and the mass started moving – limbs frantically splashing as if woken up by the sounds of their boat.
It Was Alive
Bruce felt dread shoot up his spine while Shawn went back to the edge of the boat to see what it could be. Then they saw something emerge and move in closer to them. This wasn’t any kind of marine animal any of them had ever seen. They had sailed these waters numerous times and never seen anything like this. They could now make out a pair of brown eyes.
What could this animal be? The four were as curious as ever. Their curiosity would soon be met with confusion as they figured out what the creature was.
“Wait,” Shawn screamed, “Stop!” Bruce turned to see Shawn’s face frozen in terror, and he immediately killed the engine again with a shudder. He scrambled over to his friend, and they both leaned over and peered intently. The object was motionless again, and they had no idea what they were in for when it started to writhe.
“I saw its arms move,” Shawn stammered. “There, see!” he pointed with a trembling finger. And he was right. Then, they realized what it was.
A Struggling Creature
It wasn’t a buoy or a child. It was a little dog, battling the currents and staying afloat solely because it was wearing a life jacket. If he hadn’t been wearing the bright life preserver, they may never have spotted him.
But what was a dog doing so far away from the shore in the first place?
Bruce and his party couldn’t understand how or why the little dog had come to be miles out in the open ocean. But one thing they were sure of was that it was very happy to see them!
Recognizing his saviors, he paddled furiously toward the boat until he was close enough to be hauled on board.
“As soon as he saw the bow of the boat come around, he started paddling as fast as he could towards us,” recalled Michael. It was Michael who had leaned over and scooped the little dog from the water.
After removing his life jacket and giving the little Jack Russell a look-over, they were greeted with a welcome sight.
The Jack Russell seemed to be recovering well from his sea adventure. Shawn inspected him thoroughly until she was satisfied that he’d sustained no injuries. But the question remained: where had he come from?
He had no identification on him, so how would they contact his owners? That’s when Shawn had an idea.
Coastguard To The Rescue
She radioed the coastguard, and he had some good news. “[The coastguard] said that earlier that morning they’d had a report of a dog overboard,” Shawn explained. “They asked us to please identify the dog,” Robin added.
They gave their description to the coastguard, and it was indeed the same dog – and he’d been missing for three hours!
The coastguard took note of the boat’s coordinates so that they could dispatch a rescue team. Bruce and his crew were more than happy to take care of the little pup while they waited.
The dog’s name was Jägermeister, and he was, understandably, a little nervous after having spent the last three hours at sea.
On An Adventure
Joey Myrick had all the answers. Joey and Jägermeister were on a boat trip when Joey stopped to check the hull. While he was out of view, Jägermeister decided to leap overboard to go off on an adventure of his own.
When Joey had discovered that his beloved dog was missing, he was worried sick.
Joey was waiting on the shore when the coastguard, with Jägermeister’s new friends in tow, reunited the pair. When asked how she felt at the time of the reunion, Robin said: “Wonderful. It was heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. We all got tears in our eyes… he ran up and the dog started licking his face,” Robin continued.
“We were all crying. It was really a very, very heart-warming moment. It was very happy!”