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Women find letters in a bottle written by high school students 18 years ago — on the day before 9/11

Hope Schreiber
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A mother and daughter who frequently comb the beaches of Lake Michigan spotted the yellow cap of a Pepsi bottle. Inside an item they would typically throw away, they found 18-year-old notes with a particular date: the day before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“We always walk between these two parks right here because there’s always a lot of litter washed up," Amy Gasaway told Fox 17 West Michigan. She and her daughter, Amanda Butler, will walk the coast of West Side County Park in Fennville, Michigan, a couple of times a week picking up trash while collecting beach glass.

The yellow top of a soda bottle stuck out to them both.

“As we were going through the debris... I kinda caught this yellow bottle top," Gasaway said. Inside that inconspicuous bottle were three letters.

“It had a nice ‘Open me’ sign in it," Butler said. "So, as we got in to open it, we found a class project for an AP class of English out of Clayton, Indiana.” Clayton is approximately 250 miles away from the West Side County Park — and around 150 miles to the nearest point of Lake Michigan.

The first letter was written by the teacher of the class at Cascade High School, Diane Flint, where she explained her Honors English students' assignment — to write the messages in a bottle and see if anyone ever wrote back. The two other letters included were written by two then 15-year-old students, Zachary Catlin and John Thomas.

In the messages, Catlin mentions how he aspires to be a geologist, while Thomas says he likes to play guitar and sleep. But out of everything in the project, one aspect stuck out to the mother and daughter: that the letters were dated September 10, 2001, the day before 9/11.

“I’m sure they had no clue whatsoever how the world was about to change in front of them," Gasaway said. “It really makes you wonder you know, what these young men have gone through since then. There’s been a lot of changes since 9/11, since they wrote these.”

Gasaway and Butler, with the help of FOX 17, are hopeful that they can find both the students to discover how their lives turned out.

“We’re also curious at how many of them came back from their project, you know?" Gasaway says. "Is this maybe one of the last few out there? Were there every any found, you know? We do have a couple questions for them.”

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