LaGRANGE, Ohio - The mystery of the LaGrange Christmas presents has been solved.
Christmas night, 13-year-old Emily Hoffman and her father were traveling through the intersection of Nickel Plate Diagonal and Whitney Roads when the headlights of their car struck upon a brown shopping bag in the roadway.
“It was just kind of laying in the middle of the road,” she said. “We went past it at first, but then he (her father) realized there’s something back there.”
Stopping, they discovered Christmas presents were in the shopping bag. Clothes - a young boy’s clothes - were in four boxes from J.C. Penney. Also, a Christmas card to a grandson, with a list of names on the back, plus a Burger King gift card were in the bag, each made out to Zach.
Emily was sad someone was without their gifts.
“(It) wasn’t really that fair to them that they lost some of their Christmas presents.”
Her mother posted Emily’s find to her Facebook page and asked her friends and family to share.
“Having kids of my own, I know that you look so forward to Christmas and somebody is missing their nice gifts,” said Dana Hoffman, Emily’s mother.
She contacted a friend who is a photographer at the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram to see if he could help.
By Friday morning,the Chronicle and we here at NewsChannel5 picked up the story.
NewsChannel5’s Kristin Volk told the story of the mystery presents live on air at 5:06 p.m. during Live On Five. There was immediate reaction to the story.
A resident on Whitney Road recognized the names of people on the cards as people residing on his street. He made some calls.
Meanwhile, relatives of Zach, having seen the story on NewsChannel5, arrived at the scene of Volk’s live shot, and they called more relatives.
By 5:45 p.m., Volk was back on air, with two of Zach's cousins, Heather Johnson and Hailee Plato, who correctly identified the missing items.
It seems after a family gathering on Whitney Road, the gifts were loaded into the car - well, almost all the gifts.
“The bag got left on the trunk of the car, as they turned off the road, it must have fell off," she said, adding her heartfelt gratitude.
“Thank you for whoever turned it in. We really appreciate it.”
Although the unwrapped gift boxes were a bit worse for their ordeal, they are headed for their rightful owner thanks to social media, web and TV coverage - but especially to the Hoffmans, who took time out to care at Christmas.
“We were just so thankful that somebody was able to turn the stuff in and we can get it back to Zachary,” Johnson said.
They drove away from the corner with Zach’s presents, this time the bag in Hailee’s lap, in the back seat of the car.