Local dives deep to help find lost items

Social media leads experienced diver to Whistler lakes in search of glasses, keys and sentimental treasures

From wallets to passports to IDs, Whistlerites seem to lose a lot of things every weekend.

While a quick post on social media might help reunite some people with their misplaced items, it’s a whole different challenge when that item is at the bottom of a lake.

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That’s where Chris Hedges comes in.

About a week ago, Magdalene Nagy dropped her only set of car keys off the Blueberry dock. Faced with a pricey bill to replace the fob and tow her car, she posted on Facebook to see if anyone could help.

“It would’ve been $200 to tow to Squamish,” Nagy said. “Then $600 or $700 to get the fob. They wouldn’t guarantee they could get a technician in Squamish. My car would’ve been there for a week and it was my first day of vacation.”

Luckily, someone tagged Hedges — who has over a decade-and-a-half of diving experience — in the post and he decided to help.

“The visibility in our lakes is actually quite clear,” Hedges said. “She knew the general area (where she had dropped the keys). It took me 20 minutes to half an hour of doing a nice search in a grid pattern, up and down, back and forth, and taking my time.”

When he emerged with the keys in his hand, Nagy was overjoyed. “I’m sure people across the lake heard me,” she said, with a laugh. “I was so pleased to have met him.”

After that successful search, Hedges decided to post to the popular Facebook page Whistler Summer 2017 to offer his help. In the week that followed, he rescued a pair of glasses, a piece of jewelry and watch with sentimental value. His track record is five out of six items recovered.

The task isn’t as hard as you might think, he added. “Everything down there should be natural, flowing, round. If you see something with a sharp edge or something of a different colour — there’s not a lot of visual spectrum — or something that shouldn’t be there, you pick up on it,” he said.

While all of Hedge’s impromptu clients have given him a nominal fee for his time and travel expenses, the best part has been seeing their faces when he emerges with the item in hand, he said.

“It’s been overwhelmingly awesome,” he said. “There have been some high fives, some tears. Yesterday, the guy with the eyeglasses was over the top. He was just ecstatic… I don’t mind searching for the replaceable items, but the sentimental items are more fulfilling to find.”

To that end, if you’re going to drop anything in a Whistler lake this summer, cross your fingers it happens soon. “I’m a ski patroller in the winter, but I’m sailing out next week with the Coast Guard for a month,” Hedges said.

However, he’s happy to help upon his return. If you drop something in a lake, try to pay attention to a landmark and seek out help as soon as possible, he advised. “If you’re in the middle of Green Lake the likelihood of finding something is zero,” he said. “The smaller area to search, the better, but there are no guarantees.”

The experience has also led Hedges to discover that Whistler is home to many other divers. To that end, he’s hoping to start a diving club dubbed “Glacier Fresh Divers of Whistler.”

In the meantime, you can find him on Facebook.

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