The speedy travel of news on social media helped the Dublin branch of California Highway Patrol locate a family to return a lost veteran flag that had been found on the highway in Livermore.
On Thursday, CHP Dublin -- which serves the Tri-Valley area -- tweeted photos of a display case with a folded American flag and photo of a military veteran inside, calling for help in finding its rightful owner.
The case was originally discovered wrapped in a blanket among other debris by CHP officers on eastbound Interstate 580, west of the Isabel Avenue exit in Livermore on Oct. 20.
"We found it on the 20th and we waited a while to give the family a chance to know that it was missing and since there were a couple of cars that were on the scene trying to retrieve some of the lost goods, we thought that those people that were out there would know that they lost something and they would call," said Officer Tyler Hahn, explaining why the department waited eight days before posting the tweet.
Hahn said that after several days passed, no one had called to claim the case, which prompted his office to seek the help of social media to find the family that the heirloom belonged to.
Hahn said that after the post was shared, Bay Area news outlets started reaching out to him and reporting about the story to help spread the word further.
By the next day, the family of the late veteran had been identified and CHP Dublin tweeted an update.
"What a great ending to this story! After seeing media posts and broadcast on TV, this family has been reunited with their father’s veteran memorial flag and case. We can’t thank the television media outlets and those who spread the story on social media enough. THANK YOU!," the tweet read, accompanied by a photo of two officers with the family.
According to Hahn, the family told him that their phones had been "blowing up" Thursday evening with friends and family who recognized the case calling and texting to tell them that it was on the news.
Hahn said the display case was initially being transported on the back of a pickup truck in the midst of a family member's move from Castro Valley to Manteca and at some point during the drive, the case fell off the truck along with some other items.
CHP ultimately returned the case to some of the relatives in the family who live in Livermore. "It was good to see the community come together," Hahn said of the collective effort to find the family.
"The media can be used in so many different ways. There's a lot of negative things that can be put in the media and spread but then there's also a lot of good things too. So, this is a great way to show how the media can be used for good," he added.
Hahn said he did not know the name of the veteran whose photo was inside the case or which branch of the military he served in.