Max Werenka, thirteen, has always been intellectually curious. So it was almost instinctive for him to look a little closer when he noticed something under the surface of B.C.’s Griffin Lake that didn’t seem to fit.
“I always like to question things,” Werenka said from his hometown of Sherwood Park, Alberta, as his mother Nancy watched.
It appeared to be an overturned car, resting 15 feet into the depths and only 10 feet off the TransCanada Highway, but no one could be certain. When Revelstoke Mounties arrived a few days later on Aug. 21, Max, whose family owns cabins along the lake, became their guide. They took them out in their boat and showed them the location. Then Max jumped in.
The video, shot on his GoPro in its tough waterproof case, proved it was a vehicle. Overturned, muck-covered, and sitting on the lake bed with plants and fish. The RCMP returned three days later with their dive team.
“My heart just sank when we first heard someone was in that vehicle,” Nancy Werenka said.
And the cops were both surprised and intrigued. They were able to dive down and obtain a license plate. It all came back to a missing person case from 1992. With the plate came a name: Janet Farris, 69, of Vancouver Island. Farris had driven alone to Alberta that autumn, 27 years before Max Werenka was born.
“I couldn’t imagine for that many years, not understanding what happened to a love one,” Max said.
George Farris, Janet Farris’ son, said “good memories” got him through the decades. And with the discovery, Farris believes he and his family have finally found closure, the “end of the story.”
According to Mounties, Farris’ death was not suspicious. They raised her 1980s black Honda back up to the highway she used to drive on, intending to inspect it for any clues about what went wrong. Meanwhile, they’re praising Max for his “outstanding” detective work, which has led to the resolution of a cold case that many thought would never be solved.
The RCMP will probably be looking at this guy down the road for potential employment. “If [it] was something that could have helped anyone, why not try,” Max reasoned.
Don’t forget to share and appreciate this enthusiastic boy.