Camera found at La Jolla Shores leads to friendship

La Jolla artist discovers more than just a lost camera

What started out as a simple stroll on the beach for Roula Paschali took a turn toward the incredible when she made an unusual discovery.

“I was talking my morning walk at the La Jolla Shores when I noticed a nylon strap sticking out of the sand,” Paschali said. “I pulled it out, and there was a camera buried in the sand.”

Paschali, a visual artist and La Jolla resident, took the camera home. After clearing off the sand and seaweed, she realized it was a waterproof model. She allowed it to dry out a bit, then retrieved the SIM card and loaded it into her computer. “I expected to see some photos of tourists,” she said.

Instead, the image that appeared on her computer screen was that of a young soldier, injured and bleeding.

Shocked, panicked and feeling almost like she was invading someone’s privacy, Paschali scrolled through the pictures in an attempt to find a clue as to the identity of the camera’s owner.

She saw the same dark-haired young man from the first graphic photo over and over again: with other veterans, tending Middle Eastern villagers and, in one frame, posing with President George W. Bush.

Luck with her
“Then, in one of those photos he had a name tag on his chest,” Paschali said. “I couldn’t believe my good luck.”

Turning to the Internet, Paschali searched the name on Google. Working her way through the various hits, she struck pay dirt on Facebook. Within five minutes of learning Thomas McBride’s name and contacting him online, Paschali was talking to him on her cell phone.

“He told me that he lost his camera in the water almost a week ago,” she said.

Paschali learned that McBride, a U.S. Navy corpsman, was in San Diego undergoing rehabilitation at the Naval Medical Center San Diego after losing the lower half of his right leg because of an injury sustained while on active duty in Afghanistan last October.

Eager to return his camera to him, they made plans to meet for dinner at Pasquale on Prospect that evening.

First impression
“He is an amazing young man,” Paschali said. “He is unbelievably brave, positive, modest and very smart. He is also very charismatic.”

Over dinner, Paschali’s husband, Steve Peltier told a few friends about how the two had met. Diners at other tables overheard the conversation and were soon approaching McBride to shake his hand and hug him.

“He is very open, ready to share his experience with everybody,” Paschali said.

This isn’t the first time McBride, 26, has found himself the center of attention. Shortly after being deployed, his monthly e-mails to friends and family detailing his wartime experiences were printed in the local paper of the “three-traffic-light” town in New Jersey where he grew up. He has met Bush twice and was also interviewed by Oprah Winfrey.

“To do something, to go through something serious like this and keep it to yourself would be a waste,” he said.

Chronicling life
McBride said the camera–which he lost while kayaking off the La Jolla Shores–contained photos chronicling his life for several months, including the moments right after the explosion that cost him his leg right on up to being fitted for his first prosthetic.

Given the significance of those images, he was even more appreciative of Paschali’s resourcefulness in tracking him down.

“I didn’t believe someone could find someone on Facebook just by looking at some pictures on a camera,” he said.

After learning that the next day was McBride’s birthday, Paschali and Peltier invited him and his girlfriend, Rachel Michael, to join them for dinner again. The celebration cemented the fateful friendship.

“We ended up having a great time,” McBride said.

All in perspective
Paschali described the encounter as a “reality check.”

“I don’t know if these things happen for a reason or not,” she said. “It put things into perspective for me. Meeting him, I realized I really should not complain about anything in my life and some people go through really, really painful things.”

McBride, who plans to separate from the Navy and return to school after completing rehab, is philosophical about the unexpected turns life can take: “I did a lot of thinking while I was over there. I try to keep a clear mind as much as possible, and I think it helps to have a positive attitude. You could die at any moment so enjoy every minute you have.”

Related posts:

  1. Red-light camera grace period ends
  2. Del Mar store expands to La Jolla
  3. La Jolla Symphony & Chorus gala celebrates season
  4. La Jolla Half Marathon returns for 28th year
  5. A story of football, friendship

Short URL:

Posted by heisz on Apr 28, 2009. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6





  • Community input received on proposed health club and pool facility in Rancho Santa Fe
    About 100 Rancho Santa Fe residents showed up on Friday, Oct. 17, for a health club and pool community meeting, the last outreach before ballots were mailed on Monday, Oct. 20. On the ballots, members are being asked whether the Rancho Santa Fe Association should spend $350,000 on a professional planning phase for the potential new community amenity. RSF Ass […]
  • Czech violin duo to perform at Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe
    In cooperation with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic, the Czech School San Diego hosts a free classical violin concert by internationally recognized Czech violin player Jaroslav Svecený and his daughter, Julie Svecená, who are on a tour of the United States. The concert will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Village Church. The father-daughter duo will […]
  • Rancho Santa Fe weekly sports update
    Torrey Pines defeated Canyon Crest Academy 4-3 in a Palomar League opener for both teams on Oct. 9. Alayna Tomlinson and Farah Farjood each scored two goals to lead the Falcons. Samantha “Sammy” Cirino added one goal and one assist. […]