On that evening of April 2nd, 2021, Marley Smith was waiting for her mother to pick her up from work. She waited and waited – but Margaret “Jan” Shupe Smith (59) just didn’t show up. And she couldn’t be reached…
Almost a year later, her family was certain that something must have happened to her. But there was no definitive proof of this: neither her moss-green SUV nor Smith himself had turned up in the meantime. And even the police were clueless.
The fact that daughter Marley and the family now have certainty is thanks to a group of YouTube divers who left no stone unturned to find the missing person.
A desperate relative had become aware of the “Adventures With Purpose” YouTubers (more than 1.8 million subscribers) and had already provided them with details of Smith’s disappearance over the past summer. These Youtubers specialize in helping families find missing people. Unbelievable: Since 2019, the AWP diving team has already helped solve 19 unsolved missing persons cases.
Founder Jared Leisek originally had something else in mind: he discovered a lot of underwater garbage during his dives – and set himself the goal of bringing 2000 pounds (more than 900 kilograms) of it to the surface within three months. But it happened as it had to: after tons of cell phones, sunglasses, soda cans and other rubbish, one day an even bigger catch got caught in the net. Leisek told CNN, “One day in Portland, I came across a sunken vehicle at 43 feet.”
The idea for AWP – adventures with meaning and purpose – was born. The breakthrough in the missing Margaret Smith case came last week: after clues as to where Smith had last been seen, the YouTubers began diving in the surrounding waters in Florida.
Missing vehicle recovered after almost a year
A tip from Polk County Police Department finally put her on the right track – Smith was involved in a minor traffic accident the night she disappeared. And indeed: As Leisek and his team continued their search in a nearby retention basin, their sonar device finally struck. There was actually a car under the surface of the water.
Under water, it quickly turned out that the divers had finally found the missing Kia. This was finally confirmed by the license plate check – the car could be assigned to the missing Margaret without a doubt. When the Polk County Police Department finally pulled the car out of the water, they discovered the body of a woman – Smith’s remains to be confirmed; there is little if any doubt about it.
Polk County Police Commissioner Grady Judd said: “This was a tragic accident. Our prayers are with the family. We are grateful to Adventures With Purpose for helping us locate the vehicle.” The family now have peace of mind and can finally grieve appropriately.
Michelle Sanders, who commissioned Adventures With Purpose on the case, said with relief after the salvage, “I have mixed feelings. I’m totally happy and excited. On the other hand, I feel so sorry for Marley. But at least she now knows it was an accident.”
The divers of “Adventures With Purpose“ make their service available to affected families free of charge. They finance their efforts entirely from video advertising revenue, the sale of merchandise and donations.