SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The White family from Wisconsin had been looking forward to their trip to Yellowstone for a while.
Originally set to visit the iconic national park before the pandemic, the global health crisis pushed back their plans for more than a year…and while delayed, the family would not allow this special trip to be canceled.
See, Staci White, mother of two teen boys, is battling stage 4 cancer.
In a conversation with ABC4.com, she recalled seeing a bear on the first day they hiked in the Tetons. They also laughed – after the fact, that is – at the sight of a bison running out in front of their rental car once or twice. The Whites also braved a bit of rainfall to watch Old Faithful erupt.
“Lots of hiking and laughing,” White says of the trip, which they finally took last month.
Throughout the trip, her husband, Blake, a longtime photography enthusiast, captured many smiles and memories on his camera.
For a few days at least, the family was able to relax and enjoy their time together. They even forgot for a bit that Staci had been undergoing treatment since 2017.
However, when returning their car to the rental company at Salt Lake City International Airport, they forgot maybe the most important item among all their belongings in that rental vehicle: their memories.
Staci says she accidentally left their camera bag containing hundreds of dollars of equipment, but more importantly, memory cards with pictures of the family’s vacation and high school senior pictures of her children.
Now, the Whites are asking Utahns for help. It may not be a simple case of lost and found, as they have experienced.
Upon realizing the mistake, Blake ran back to the rental counter to retrieve the bag but was told that the car had already been cleaned and rented out to another customer.
The feeling of loss has been devastating.
“I just really want those pictures because I don’t know how long I have. I’ve got cancer and it’s something I really want for my family,” White tells ABC4.com “We did my son’s senior pictures on there and this trip and so it’s very frustrating.”
Since that heartbreaking day, the family has had little to no success gathering leads as to what happened to their camera bag, which had seemingly vanished in less than an hour from the time the car was returned to the moment White attempted to retrieve it from the rental location.
Despite repeated inquires by the family to Thrifty and Hertz, the rental car agency’s parent company, along with efforts from a third-party luggage retrieval business in addition to filing a police report, the trail for the bag has gone cold.
Responding to an inquiry, a representative from Hertz issued the following statement:
“We sincerely regret the White’s experience as we always endeavor to reunite our customers with their missing items. Unfortunately, these items haven’t been located or turned into our Lost and Found. We have reached out to apologize and are further reviewing this situation for opportunities for improvement.”
Although the Whites were told by the employees at the Thrifty rental counter at the Salt Lake City International Airport the car had been quickly cleaned and rented by another customer, Lost Returns, Inc. says the car had remained in the airport facility for over a week before being issued to another renter.
And while the Whites continue to implore Hertz for more help, the family has asked for additional assistance from the SLC Airport security team.
On their end, airport officials have stated they are happy to work with the Whites to do everything they can to locate the bag.
Salt Lake City Police Department officials have also said they are working on finding updates on the bag.
For the Whites, who have been trying to locate the bag and the missing photographs from their home in a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin on a daily basis, the process has been extremely vexing. White is less concerned about the equipment and more interested in getting the photos of the family together and enjoying themselves, especially due to her current health situation.
“This was a vacation we were supposed to do last year but then because of the pandemic, we canceled it. And so those are good memories.”
They’re asking anyone in the area to check pawn shops, online sellers, or other possible venues where the bag could turn up. While it may be a long shot to find the memory cards, or the camera bag, White says having those pictures would mean a lot to her and her family. This trip, which was the first that the outdoor-loving family had taken since her diagnosis, was especially meaningful to the Whites.
“There were lots of smiles on faces and good times and good memories, nothing about being sick,” she explains. “It kind of felt normal. And that’s what was great about it.”
The White’s missing bag contained the following items:
- 1 Sony A6000 camera body
- 1 Canon 7D DSLR camera body
- 1 Sony 16-50mm lens
- 1 Tamron 70-200mm G2 lens
- 1 Tiffen 77mm camera filter
- Other accessories including memory cards and batteries.