He Disappeared Hiding Prize for Elaborate Treasure Hunt

Search continues for 21-year-old Hunter Lewis off coast of California
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2022 1:42 PM CST
Canoeist Disappears Hiding Treasure Hunt Prize
Stock image   (Getty/Jonas Ronnbro)

(Newser) – A college student who created an adventurous treasure hunt for family and friends is believed to have died while hiding the treasure. Hunter Lewis, a 21-year-old college student in northern California, has not been seen since setting out Dec. 30 in a canoe from a beach in Humboldt County, reports SFGate. Pieces of the canoe have washed ashore, as has the cigar box believed to have contained the unknown "treasure" of the hunt. Hunter's father, Corey Lewis, says Hunter's final clue was that the treasure would be found "where his heart is." The Los Angeles Times explains how the clue might shed light on what happened.

In a family video, "Corey Lewis holds up to the camera that last clue: a 3-D printed key, which, when aligned with the rock islands whose shapes match its teeth, ends in a heart that encircles Flatiron Rock," per the Times. The family believes Hunter intended to reach that rock, but was unaware of a treacherous reef near it that likely overturned his boat. “We know he was going there,” says Corey Lewis. “We also know he doesn’t know that reef exists.” The Coast Guard has suspended the search, per the Sacramento Bee, and Corey Lewis acknowledges that it's now a recovery operation, not a rescue.

Hunter, a student at California State University Long Beach, has plenty of outdoor skills, along with his pilot's and scuba license. His treasure hunt was an elaborate one: He made up a story about a fictional ancestor leaving behind a treasure, and he hid clues in places that required people to rappel down cliffs and such. “The real ironic, tragic and epic part of this is he started this whole thing with an Instagram page and a letter saying that we had a lost Lewis family treasure that we didn’t know about off the North Coast,” Corey Lewis tells the Times. “He’s that lost treasure.” (Read more missing person stories.)

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