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May 7, 2019 11:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Eight Months Later And 10 Miles Away, Local Surfer's Missing Camera Was Found And Returned

Johnny Sommers lost his Crosstour camera at Lashley Beach in Westhampton Beach last September. ANISAH ABDULLAH
May 11, 2019 8:16 PM

Last September, Johnny Sommers saw one day when a hurricane-like swell was being forecast at beaches along Dune Road in western Southampton Town—the perfect opportunity for an experienced surfer like him to catch big waves.

He drove to Lashley Beach in Westhampton Beach from his home in Moriches, attached his Crosstour action camera—similar to a GoPro—to the nose of his board, and paddled out.

But when he was about to drop in on one of the waves, he bailed and jumped off his board—and lost his camera along the way, into the Atlantic Ocean. He assumed he would never see it again, and eventually bought a new one to replace it.

He was cooking dinner for his family a few nights ago when he received a bunch of text messages from his friends. Someone posted on Facebook that they had found an action camera on the beach in Southampton—eight months after it went missing.

The post included screenshots of Mr. Sommers paddling on his board, making him easily identifiable to his mutual friends.

He commented on the post about an hour after it went up: “That’s me. No way. I lost that last summer.”

Manorville resident Pamela Chadderton made the post on May 2, asking if anyone knew the surfer so that the GoPro could be returned. Her husband, Edward Godzieba, found it the day before on the shore of the Shinnecock Inlet’s eastern side, about 10 miles to the west of where Mr. Sommers lost it, while he and his friend were fishing.

“It was just lying on the beach, like, right outside the surf. I picked it up, I had my friend with me, and he’s, like, ‘You know, I think I can get it working,’” said Mr. Godzieba, who often fishes at the inlet. His fishing partner, Guy Grillo, retrieved the footage the next day and passed it along to Ms. Chadderton to help find its owner.

They met up later that night to exchange the camera, as they lived just 10 minutes from each other.

“I was surprised it worked. I was surprised at where he said he lost it,” Mr. Godzieba added.

Mr. Sommers said that the camera was in perfect condition and the waterproof case was good, too. The only thing he had to replace were the rusted bolts on the case.

“I just think it’s a little ridiculous, because I just thought the camera would be, like, history. I did not think I was going to get footage or anything of that day,” he said. “And it’s kind of funny—in one of the clips, you see when it got taken off.”

Mr. Sommers, 25, likes to upload his surfing videos on his Instagram page, where he also uploads clips of himself skateboarding. He said his dad taught him how to surf when he was 4 years old, and he has gone out as often as he could ever since—“all winter, whenever.”

“I was really grateful. I told [Ms. Chadderton] good karma is going to go her way, and I was really happy, because I have the footage from that day now,” Mr. Sommers said, adding that he plans to take it out in the water again soon.

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