Journey Across The Pacific
Woman's camera found in Taiwan after 5-plus years in ocean
by Alex McRae
When Newnan’s Lindsay Scallan made her first trip to Hawaii in August 2007 she took enough pictures to last a lifetime.
She never guessed it would be almost six years before she saw them.
“I was stunned,” Scallan said this week. “I’d forgotten all about them. But to find the camera and the pictures after all these years, I don’t know what to say.”
Earlier this month, Scallan’s camera, still in its waterproof case with digital memory card intact, was found after it washed ashore in Taiwan, more than 6,000 miles from where it went missing in Maui.
News of the wandering camera hit the Internet, and last Sunday, March 24, Scallan learned her camera and vacation photos had survived.
Scallan and the camera will be reunited in June in Taiwan, courtesy of a free flight from China Airlines, whose employee found the camera. But for now she is learning how to be an overnight international sensation.
“It’s pretty crazy around here,” she says. “People are calling from all over and wanting to talk to me. I’m still trying to take it all in, but it’s been really fun.”
When Scallan traveled to Hawaii with her best friend in August 2007, Scallan took along a Canon Power Shot camera with a waterproof case, ready to snap any scene, above water, or below.
“It was wonderful,” she says. “We had a great time.”
Scallan returned home safely. Sadly, her waterproof camera did not — the camera being lost at sea during a night scuba dive on the eve of Scallan’s departure. The seas were rough, the visibility was awful and Scallan dropped her camera. She returned to the beach the next morning to see if it had washed up. It was gone.
“I was really hurt and disappointed,” Scallan said. “It had all my pictures of my first Hawaii trip. You couldn’t replace those.”
But it turns out the pictures weren’t lost for good.
“I didn’t find it, so I gave up,” Scallan says. “I was really disappointed because it was the last day we were there and all my pictures from the entire trip were on it. I was upset, but what can you do? I went home.”
The camera, however, had a different travel itinerary, and earlier this month Scallan was stunned to learn that her camera had washed up many miles away on a beach in Taiwan.
The camera, encrusted with barnacles but otherwise unharmed, was found by China Airlines employee Douglas Cheng on the beach at Taitung, on Taiwan’s east coast.
Cheng opened the case, realized the pictures were still intact and the hunt began for what became known as “the missing blonde” in local media. Taiwan-based China Airlines created a Facebook page saying “China Airlines is looking for you” and the Internet womanhunt went viral.
Meanwhile, Cheng and co-worker Tim Chaung examined the pictures more closely and in the background of one photos identified a trimaran type of yacht named Teralani 3, which is registered in Maui.
The search then focused on Hawaii. There TV outlet Hawaii News Now ran a story that was picked up by other outlets and see around the world. Even in Peachtree City, Ga.
The Hawaiian newscast was seen by the wife of a Scallan high school friend who lives in Peachtree City. When they told Scallan they were sure it was her in the photos, Scallan contacted Hawaii News Now and was blown away at what she saw on their website.
“It was me. And my best friend,” Scallan said. “And it was all pictures I’d never seen before and now they were all over the Internet. It was surreal.”
China Airlines offered an all-expense paid trip to Taiwan to Scallan and a traveling companion to retrieve the camera and photos.
Scallan has just started a new job and will not be able to travel there until June, but she can’t wait to be reunited with the camera that’s made her a worldwide celebrity.
“It’s just great,” Scallan says. “I am really looking forward to getting my camera and meeting the man who found it. It’s really been unbelievable.”