OREGON, USA — This week, the Yamhill County Medical Examiner confirmed the remains found in the car recovered from the Willamette River last Friday belong to former Cornelius mayor Ralph Brown.
The first steps towards closure came after a year-long search for the 77-year-old. Brown's family enlisted the help of a special dive team with a unique mission called Adventures With Purpose (AWP).
What started as an environmental mission to clear debris out of water, turned into a search and recovery dive team with a massive following. On YouTube, more than two million subscribers tune in to follow the team, led by Jared Leisek and Doug Bishop.
"The growth over the last three years has been astronomical," said Bishop. "We understand what we do, the resource, and how powerful it has been."
The AWP team works to find and recover loved ones lost, sometimes, after many years. It's a job that requires so much sensitivity, in addition to their sonar technology and expert diving skills.
"Those talents, there's not really anyone else in the world that holds them in the way that we do, and we've organically taught ourselves. We didn't realize what this was going to turn into."
In just a couple of years, the team has recovered more than 150 vehicles and helped solve 23 missing person cold cases. The latest case - regarding the disappearance of Ralph Brown.
"It just kept nagging at me and we could not let that go, even though we have searched this area three times before," Leisek explained to reporters last week.
Brown's family thanked AWP for the team's persistence, which included 10 searches in all, to bring them answers.
"They never stopped thinking about my grandpa," said Megan Closson, Brown's granddaughter, on Friday. "That's the reason why he's been found today."
"It's also in a very bittersweet way, exciting. Understanding that we are doing something that nobody else can do," Bishop said, "We take it very seriously and it's an honor. It really is."