Twenty-one-year-old Anthony Vargas was in the Shingletown woods late Friday afternoon scouting turkeys for the upcoming fall hunting season. But he wound up finding something completely unrelated to turkeys that, by the day’s end, would make him a hero by thousands, and appreciated by one family in particular.
It was about 5:30 p.m., and Vargas was just heading home for dinner when he made a bizarre discovery. Vargas, who was raised in Shingletown, is familar with the woods. He knows what belongs, and what doesn’t.
But even a city slicker would take one look at an RV parked lopsided in the middle of the woods and know something was wrong. Immediately Vargas remembered reading a post on Facebook about a stolen trailer that held a family’s belongings for safe-keeping during evacuation from the Carr Fire.
“I saw it sticking out of the brush, so I drove in there, and – bam – there it was,” he said. “So I went to grab my dad and get a licence plate number to make sure, and had my girlfriend text the owners.”
They heard back that it was, in fact, the Bonnin’s missing trailer.
They reported their finding to law enforcement. Then, for the next nearly 2 hours, Anthony, his girlfriend Emma Fraizer, and Anthony’s father cut away brush to make a path to haul the trailer out of the woods using Anthony’s four-wheel-drive truck.
Vargas, a construction worker for Chase Designs, said it didn’t look like whoever had dropped the trailer in the woods had done it with “much care”.
He said the trailer looked dented and scraped, but otherwise OK. He said it was his impression that someone intended to live in the trailer, because he found food wrappings left out.
Anthony said there was also an SUV nearby, “broken down and stuck”. He provided the CHP with the exact location where he’d found the trailer and the vehicle.
With CHP on the scene, Vargas’ job was done. He went home, finally ate dinner and shared on Facebook what had happened.
“My good deed is done for the week … found the missing trailer out in the woods, recovered it and got it back to its rightful owners. I’d say today was a success! Emma Fraizer and pops helped.”
Both Zach and Megan Bonnin expressed their gratitude to Vargas on Facebook for locating their stolen trailer.
“I’m just glad they got their trailer at least,” he said. “I’m just trying to do the right thing, instead of a lot of my generation, out being crazy.”
Meanwhile, on Facebook — the place where the Bonnins first posted an alert on Wednesday about their stolen trailer, a post that was shared and read by thousands, including Anthony Vargas — by 1:45 a.m. Saturday there were 93 messages and 74 shares on Vargas’ FB page.
He was being praised as a hero, and thanked over and over. He accepted the accolades with humility, and when one person called Vargas an angel, he responded, “No problem, just being a good person.”
It was all a lot of unexpected excitement on a day that started out calm, just a 21-year-old, good person who strives to the right thing, checking out the woods, with the upcoming turkey hunting season on his mind.
When asked whether he’d found a good spot for fall turkey-hunting, he responded with a Facebook thumbs up, a wink, and one word. “Always.”