A bottle carrying the ashes of a Texas man along with letters from loved ones washed up on a Florida beach after being released into the tide over a month ago.
Someone found the glass bottle near Miramar Beach in northeast Florida and reported it to the Walton County Sheriff's Office last Thursday. The bottle, sealed tight with a purple cap, was handed over to Sgt. Paula Pendleton, who opened it from her patrol car. Inside was a small bag holding some human ashes, a few dollar bills and two handwritten letters dated Aug. 1 that included a telephone number, according to social media posts from the sheriff's office.
"This bottle contains the cremation ashes of my son, Brian, who suddenly and unexpectedly passed on March 9, 2019," the first letter read. "More than anything, he longed to be free, so I'm sending him on one last adventure."
"This bottle was launched from Destin, Florida. If you find it, please call or text me and let me know. I have left $4 to cover the call," the note continued. "Feel free to add your own note, then kindly set him free once again. My son was 39-years-old at the time of his passing and he was deeply loved. Please keep him traveling."
The second letter was from the deceased man's daughter.
"My name is Peyton and I am Brian's daughter. When he passed, I was 14-years-old," the note read. "It struck our whole family pretty hard and, so far, it has been a very hard road. But, like my granny said, he loved to be free. So that's exactly what we are doing."
In a recent interview with ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA , Peyton Mullins said her father, a tow truck driver from Garland, Texas, died from a sudden heart attack just five days after his 39th birthday. She and her grandmother entrusted the bottle with his ashes to relatives who were heading to the Florida coast and promised to set him adrift from there.
"We just wanted him to be free, because that was his whole thing. He wanted to travel the world," she told WFAA. "I want what's best for him, even though he can't tell me what that is."
Sgt. Pendleton was moved by the letters, having suddenly lost her husband last year when he fell ill and died just weeks later, according to the sheriff's office. So she texted the family, telling them she had found the bottle with their loved one's remains and would give it to a friend who is a charter boat captain.
"He has offered to bring Brian way out into the Gulf so he can continue his adventure," Pendleton wrote in the text, according to the sheriff's office. "But, before that, I want you to know he got to do a ride-a-long with a deputy before drifting out once again."
The bottle, with the ashes, dollar bills and letters from the deceased man's family plus one more from the sergeant, returned to sea last Friday.
Pendleton has since talked to Peyton on Skype and hopes to meet her in person soon, according to the sheriff's office.
"There's someone that doesn't know me but cares," the teen told WFAA after speaking with the sergeant. "It felt really good."