Entertainment And News

Richard Ragland Drowned In 2017; His Recently Found GoPro Reveals How He Died

Photo: WDSU.com
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It's been two years since Richard Ragland died which swimming in a state park in Tennessee. The 22-year-old was out with friends when he died and his family has never understood exactly what could have happened. They had hoped that local authorities would have answers for them when the promised to send videos taken by someone else that day but the drive used to hold the photos was stolen before it could arrive.

Now, Ragland's parents may finally get the closure they need thanks to treasure hunter Rich Aloha. Aloha was diving in the area where Richard died and just happened to spot part of a GoPro camera under the water. He retrieved it, looked at the footage and realized he needed to get it back to the family.

Who is Richard Ragland and how did he die? Read on for all the details.

1. Tragic accident in 2017

Ragland had been out for a day with friends in Foster Falls State Park in Tennessee on June 4, 2017.  He was just a few days shy of his 23rd birthday at the time. It's never been entirely clear what happened, but at some point in the day, WSB-TV reports, he went underwater and never came back up. His death was a tragic accident but his parents have never fully understood what happened in the moments before he died. They were left with questions and memories of their son. “We miss him dearly with all of our hearts,” his mother Robin McCready told WSB-TV. “He was an amazing young man. Full of love, full of energy. He never met a stranger.”

2. Lost video footage

Ragland's parents had hoped that they might be able to glean some information from a thumb drive of videos other people in the area had taken the day Ragland drowned. Park rangers had said they would send her the drive but when an envelope approved, the thumb drive was nowhere to be found. They eventually concluded that it had been stolen before it got to them. They expected that they would never know what exactly happened on that tragic day. 

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3. Treasure hunting YouTuber

Rich Aloha, a self-described treasure hunter and aspiring YouTube star, was diving in the area where Ragland died. Rangers at the park mentioned the drowning to him and told him to keep an eye out for anything that may have belonged to the dead man. He was close to wrapping up his diving efforts for the day but decided to stay down a little bit longer. "I had about 1500 PSI left of air when I was about to get out of the water, but something made me feel impressed," he told WFTV. "I would say God made me feel impressed to keep searching."

Aloha saved Ragland's camera.

4. "The end tip of the thumbscrew"

Aloha spotted something on the floor of the area where he was diving and he went to go see what it was. It turned out to be the GoPro camera, which was all but concealed. “I strongly believe that God led me to this GoPro because the only thing I saw was the end tip of the thumbscrew and everything else was just covered in muck,” Aloha told WSB-TV. He brought the camera to the surface where he found that it sustained some damage after two years in the water but the SD card was intact. 

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5. Reviewing the footage

When Aloha got home, he spent some time reviewing the footage he retrieved from the camera's memory card. He said he was able to tell pretty quickly that it was the man the rangers had told him about. “I was going through the footage and I said, ‘Oh my God, this is the guy,'” People reports. After that, he decided it was his responsibility to find Ragland's family and turn the videos over to them.

6. Grateful parents contacted

It took Aloha hours of research to track down a number for Ragland's parents but he was happy to do it. “I’m glad I found it, personally, because I try to do the right thing and get the item back to the rightful owner,” Aloha told the local news. In a Facebook post, Aloha says "My heart breaks for the family and friends of Richard L Ragland III I'm beyond amazed that God used me as a vessel for His glory to return such a priceless GoPro to the family!!! #Miracles happen and #Prayers really do get answered!" 

Aloha was happy to get the videos to Ragland's parents.

7. Enjoying memories of their son

Ragland's parents say they haven't watched their son's final moment on the camera but they are slowing working their way through videos from his last days and the videos are joyful ones. “What we’ve seen so far is Rich being Rich, living life to the fullest,” Ragland's mother Robin McCready says. As for the man who brought her the videos, she says "For him to go through his efforts to do his research, make numerous phone calls, he didn’t give up until he got in touch with us and that means the world to us."

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.