Team of Oregon divers are solving cold cases across the nation

A team of Oregon divers are solving cold cases across the nation. They call themselves Adventures with Purpose.
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 6:46 AM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - A team of Oregon divers are solving cold cases across the nation. They call themselves Adventures with Purpose.

It originally started as a mission to help protect the environment, by diving for trash, cell phones and cars. That mission quickly changed, though.

“To date, we’ve helped solve 26 cases in the last two years,” said Douglas Bishop. “Fourteen of those have occurred over the last six months.”

Bishop is a diver for Adventures with Purpose, an Oregon-based group that has made it their mission to search for missing people, and the cars they were last seen driving.

“We go all over the country,” said Bishop. “I just finished up this week, a 45-day trip where we were in 27 different states.”

If someone goes missing with their car, Bishop said, they often get involved, checking bodies of water near the areas they were last seen.

He said their success is thanks to community donations, which funds 100% of the volunteer group’s efforts.

“They saw our ability to do what we do, and they’ve supported us every step of the way,” said Bishop.

The team uses sonar technology to locate potential targets underwater.

“Once we do identify what we’re looking for, then it becomes a crime scene,” said Bishop. “Law enforcement comes in.”

The team documents all their dives on their popular YouTube channel.

“So we receive roughly between 15 and 20 million views per month between our channels and the viewers,” said Bishop. “They reach out to us and they let us know when a family member or community member is missing and they’re missing with their vehicle.”

That’s how the loved ones of Richard Ritz found the YouTube divers.

The Portland man went missing in September 2020. Bishop and his team located him and his car in about 25-feet of water, off the Cathedral Park Boat Ramp, nine-months later.

“It’s very bittersweet, but it’s an honor to be able to provide families with answers that, in other words, they would not have,” said Bishop.

They also helped in the case of Antonio Amaro Lopez, whose car went off the Glenn Jackson Bridge, after hitting a patch of ice during a winter storm in February 2021.

“I want to help so many families that that’s our focus, and that’s going to be our focus for a long time to come,” he said.

And it’s that focus, or purpose, that keeps Bishop and his team going.

“It’s honoring to be able to get out here and do something that nobody else is doing,” he said. “You know what lurks beneath the surface, you have no idea.”

“And to be able to get underneath that surface and provide families answers is really, it’s a positive thing in my mind,” said Bishop. “I hang my hat on that.”

Bishop said the longest cold case they’ve helped solve is 30 years.

FOX 12 asked Bishop how they can do this and not always law enforcement. He said it’s all about resources. If it’s a cold case, authorities often can’t spend the time and money on a case and that’s where they come in.

If you would like to learn more about Adventures with Purpose, or how you can donate to its mission, click here.