Kudos to the reporter at VICE Media for tracking this down.
A photo of a man who got stuck in an outhouse after jumping down the toilet to retrieve his phone turned out to be real and recent.
The picture of the unfortunate sap stuck in the toilet surfaced on the popular Facebook page Yellowstone: Invasion of the Idiots on Wednesday.
The author of the post, Ryan Long, explained that the hapless traveler dropped his phone down the toilet and he went to grab it before getting stuck.
“The guy lost his phone in the latrine, took off his clothes and removed the toilet in order to retrieve it,” Long wrote.
“After getting his phone back, he became stuck,” Long said.
“90 degree weather and a 3 hour wait for another person to show up and help them out,” he said.
But that’s it. No other clues. No way to know if this actually happened and where it happened.
That’s where VICE reporter Samantha Cole went to work.
She discovered that the photo appeared on Reddit last week with the caption: “Guy dropped his phone into a pit toilet. Decided to take his clothes off and dive in. Got stuck and wasn’t found until the next day. He never got the phone.”
Cole went to work and started sleuthing the Internet and found that the location was likely in Montana.
She started calling sheriff offices, fire departments, city halls, police departments, state agencies, federal agencies, and every other possible lead.
Phone call after phone call. Email after email. No luck.
Nearly a week after her investigation she heard from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks office.
They identified the location as being on Fish Trap Creek on the Big Hole River.
Even better, they knew the story. Morgan Jacobsen, a spokesman for the agency, had the details.
“A man dropped his phone in the latrine. He then undressed, removed the toilet and climbed in to retrieve it,” Jacobsen said.
“He was unable to climb out and was stuck for about three hours (not overnight) until a few other people came along and were able to help him. They had to damage the door handle to get inside. They lowered a camp chair into the vault that the man stood on to climb out,” Jacobsen said.
Who the man is remains a mystery. Whoever uploaded the original photo blacked-out the guy’s face. VICE, however, hasn’t given up searching for this detail.
“The only missing component to this story, now, is our intrepid friend’s firsthand account of his harrowing three hours in the toilet,” Cole wrote. “If you have information on the identity of Montana’s toilet diver, please get in touch; I’d love to talk to you.”