What were your childhood passions? Hunter Lewis had many passions. He loved to surf, rockclimb and play guitar. He had already gotten his pilot and scuba diving licenses. He also loved treasure hunts. He was a student, who was studying areospace engineering, hoping one day that he would get to work for NASA.
For the past two years he had been working on putting together his own treasure hunt for his friends and family to participate in, his father said. He wanted it to be “epic.” He even set up an Instagram account for this search and a fictional backstory for the event: that an old relative had left behind a treasure.
“’He started [the hunt] by sending us a letter saying that we have this family inheritance that we don’t know about, that we have a lost family treasure along this coastline,’ Corey Lewis said. ‘He was leading us on this wonderful expedition to find it.’”
The treasure hunt was meant to last three days and include rappelling down a cliff, climbing up a railroad trestle and decoding messages with a cipher.
On December 30th, Lewis left around 8:30 in the morning, going out on the family’s 15 foot fiber glass canoe to hide the final treasure. He was believed to enter the water, near Trinidad Harbor between 10 a.m. and noon. He was heading towards a sea stack called Pilot Rock.
When Lewis failed to return, his family reported him missing. That same evening, deputies started searching on ground, while the U.S. Coast Guard deployed a helicopter and boat. No signs of Lewis were found that night. Additional agencies such as the Humboldt County Sheriff Search and Rescue Posse and the California State Parks joined in the search, looking in the surrounding beaches and ocean.
That Thursday, Humboldt Bay Fire Dive Rescue and Recovery Team, along with others launched an underwater search in the Flatiron Rock Area. This location was based on information gathered and items found during searches of the Trinidad area. These searches included boats, deep water sonar, and divers. Nothing was found.
The Saturday after he went missing, a broken piece of the canoe washed ashore north of Elk Head. An additional search of that area by deputies and the Coast Guard didn’t yield any leads on Lewis’ whereabouts. However, the next day searchers, found a hinged wooden box, which was a childhood gift from his father. Lewis planned to put the prize for the treasure hunt in there.
Lewis is 5 feet 10 inches, 135 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was likely wearing a dark wetsuit when he went missing.
“’It’s so epic what he did, and yet, I wish he wasn’t the lost treasure,’ his father, Corey Lewis, told SFGate.’”
The family has set up a GoFundMe to help cover expenses.
A Facebook page has been started to update on the case. One administrator, Jae Wood, posted “We are entering the window into which Hunter may wash ashore. If you were to locate him please contact Humboldt County Sheriffs Office at (707) 445-7251 or 911. Do not place yourself at risk to recover Hunter. Remember not all beaches are safe to enter the surf. An appropriate agency will respond to assist when you call HCSO.”