The 13-Year-Old Was New to Diving, Made a Big Find

Outside Online has the story of a prosthetic leg lost and found
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2021 6:55 AM CDT
He Wanted to Go Diving for Treasure. He Found a Leg
The water off Panama City Beach.   (Getty Images)

Sebastian Morris was hoping to do as his father had done. The 13-year-old Florida boy had been captivated by some of the finds his dad uncovered as a commercial diver, including a 300-year-old shipwreck he discovered in the Black Sea in 2019. On May 4, 2020, the father and son set out on a dive trip at St. Andrews State Park near Panama City Beach. Sebastian had only been diving for about six months, which is how long it took him to find treasure. "In the corner of my eye, I see something shine," he tells David Kushner in a piece for Outside Online. He noticed a leather strap, and spent about 10 minutes trying to wrench the object from the sand. Turns out it was a leg—a prosthetic one worth about $9,000. But the story doesn't end there. Sebastian managed to find the man who lost it.

That would be Sergeant Carter Hess, who lost much of his right leg below the knee while in Afghanistan in 2012. Hess had grown up surfing off Panama City Beach, and in 2014 he tried to see if he might be able to surf with his standard prosthetic. It popped off on his first attempt to stand up on the board. The leg washed ashore, he went home, and "I became a shut-in." Things might have stayed that way had he not reached out to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to see if its prosthetics team could design him a leg that could withstand aggressive surfing. The titanium and carbon fiber model they came up with worked the first time Hess tried it, and he got so proficient that he started teaching other veterans the sport. While surfing in March 2020, he got knocked off the board by a wave hard enough that the leg came off and was lost. Until Sebastian found it. The teen posted his find on Facebook, and it was reunited with Hess soon after. (Read the full story.)

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