Parents Receive Letter From Late Son When Message In A Bottle Resurfaces After Being Dropped In River In 1989


Big River Shipbuilders, a company in the marine industry, discovered something unexpected in April 2022. Never knowing what might emerge from the depths, the workers always watch for something new, exciting, and maybe even valuable. 

A salvage diver spotted a green bottle while working. Laughing, Mitchell said he is always on the lookout for sunken treasure. It was Mitchell’s eagle eyes that first spotted the unlikely find. On that fateful morning, Mitchell said: “I always look for stuff that’s unique — driftwood, anything … I told my buddy, ‘there’s a message in this bottle!'”

Mitchell was delighted to find something so unexpected after working in the business for 20 years. The battered letter was then extracted from the sealed bottle using whatever tools Mitchell had at hand – in this case, shish kebab sticks. 

Even though the paper was well-worn, Mitchell and his coworkers were able to decipher some words scrawled in pencil. In addition to 1989, Oxford, Mississippi, a “please”, a “thank you” and a request to call or call, the note also appeared to be written in the handwriting of a child. 

Mitchell Mitchell was equally enchanted by the letter as was Big River Shipbuilders’ safety manager, Brad Babb. Babb commented on how the letter piqued their curiosity: “We’re all kids at heart. We could see ourselves as that 11-year-old boy.” Touching on their impulse to find the author, he said: “It really just fueled us to go find this guy’ because it’s sort of a kindred spirit where, “Would I want somebody to find me? Yes I would.”

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It wasn’t until they posted to Facebook that they received any clues. On their profile page, the men wrote: “Today our salvage crew found a bottle with the following message inside. Time has not been kind to the letter. We believe this was done by a student from Oxford, MS with the last name Tahl in 1989. We would love to let that individual know we found it. Please spread the word and help us find this person.”

“I never thought it would take on the life it has taken, but I’m glad it did.” Babb said in response to the response.

Through Facebook, the men were connected to the boy’s family. The message in the bottle was a 1989 sixth-grade class project. The class’ teacher, Martha Burnett, remembered the day. As she told reporters, “We had a field trip. We dropped our bottles in the water, and for many years we heard nothing.” Until Big River contacted the Dahls in 2022. 

It was unfortunate that the author, Brian Dahl, had passed away years earlier; however, his parents were able to meet the men and see their son’s message. Even years after his death, Eric Dahl’s son “continues to inspire connections.” Remembering her student, 

Despite his son’s inability to see his bottle return to shore, his intrepid letter brought strangers together to share in the spirit of adventure and his memory. 


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