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Photographer reunited with camera thrown into California lake in May attack

By Ben Hooper
Photographer reunited with camera thrown into California lake in May attack
Shelly Hirst reeled in this camera while fishing in California's Hesperia Lake. Screenshot: KABC-TV

HESPERIA, Calif., July 15 (UPI) -- A woman reunited a photojournalist with the camera he lost in an attack after she fished it out of a lake months later.

Shelly Hirst said she was fishing with family members Wednesday at Hesperia Lake when she hooked something that proved difficult to reel in.

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"My brother-in-law was like you caught the big one and I was like, 'no it's not a fish.' I could tell it wasn't fighting like a fish," Hirst told KABC-TV.

Hirst said she thought about simply cutting her line, but she was eventually able to bring the object to the surface.

"I caught a camera," she said.

The Nikon camera was missing its lens and was caked in mud, but it contained an intact SD card that Hirst discovered contained about 1,700 photos.

"When I saw there were photos, I thought 'Oh, sweet.' I put it up on Facebook just to see if anyone knew anything," Hirst told KNBC-TV.

Hirst eventually learned photojournalist David Pardo had lost a similar camera when he was attacked at the lake in May.

Pardo said he was taking photos for a Victorville Daily Press summer feature when a woman took issue with having her picture taken. The photographer said he assured the woman her picture wouldn't be used, but she demanded he delete the photo.

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Pardo said two men came up while he was talking to the woman and demanded he delete the photo, but he explained he couldn't delete it due to a journalistic practice of keeping even the unused pictures.

"That's when I was sucker-punched," he told The Press Enterprise newspaper. "They just repeatedly attacked and attacked and attacked and attacked and attacked."

He said the men threw both of his cameras and his cellphone into the lake.

Hirst reunited Pardo with his camera and the SD card Thursday in Riverside.

"I didn't catch the catch of the day, but I did catch somebody's memories," Hirst said. "And if I can give that back to somebody, that would be awesome."

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