HELEN, Ga. -- It's the kind of story we like to share: a 12-year-old girl determined to complete a good deed. You stepped up. More than 12,000 of you shared Emily Root's story; almost 1 million people saw your posts on social media.
ORIGINAL STORY: Help Emily find this man
Emily Root's family is stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. She was in Helen for the holiday weekend when she and her brother fished a GoPro camera from the water. It was dead.
When they recharged the camera, she was thrilled to find it still worked and had left them plenty of clues about the man who owned the camera.
She knew what he looked like: he'd turned the camera around more than once to capture his smiling, bearded face.
She knew who he was with: what appeared to be a wife, a little girl and several friends.
She knew what he was doing: the video shows the group riding a bus and then tubing down the Chattahoochee River.
She knew how he lost the camera: the moment is captured on video when he goes to help the girl back into her tube and takes a tumble.
She and her family called 11Alive's Julie Wolfe to help rally the social media community to find out what the one thing she didn't know: who was he?
The reaction was awesome. People cheered Emily for her honesty and determination. They offered suggestions and sent in photos of friends and neighbors it COULD be. It wasn't.
But then, the series clues started trickling in. 'It kinda looks like my Sociology professor, just a little older and grayer," Aron Randall wrote on Facebook.
Adam Bossler was more certain: "The owner of the camera lost on the Chattahoochee River is Nathan Palmer. He's a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Georgia Southern University."
Then, the email that confirmed it: "I simply cannot believe that emily found my camera! I lost it on the river in Helen, GA. I can prove that I am the "happy bearded guy" in the photos. I attached a selfie to this email that I just took (see date/time stamp for authenticity). This is the best and most random thing that's every happened to me."
We texted the photo to Leah Root, Emily's mom, and she responded, "Yay that is definitely him! I am so thankful to you for putting this out there! As a parent the opportunities that we have to teach our children about helping others and taking feelings of others (even when they are strangers) is so precious! She has firsthand experience now that even something small can be very important and that people are ALWAYS worth the effort!"
We're working on gathering reaction for this story; you can see more tonight at 6:00 on 11Alive.