It’s everything that sucks about the internet and it’s everything that is great about the internet. It’s a sweet bastion for trolls and over-opinionated loudmouths that can keep themselves from commenting on every little thing that pops into their thick skulls. But Reddit can also be an amazing force for good when it wants to be. People can come together for a common good to make the world, both online and off, a better place. This is a good story. A story about the latter. This is the story of a Reddit user using his skills as an automobile inspector to recognize the part of the car found, inform police clear across the nation and it led to an arrest in a hit and run fatality.
For the uninitiated, Reddit is basically a collection of message boards covering just about every single subject under the sun. Thousands and thousands of users post all day and all night, asking questions, posting news stories, sharing memes, uploading insane videos, and anything else you can think of.
This story started with a post on the subreddit r/whatisthisthing which is a board where users upload pictures of weird animals or plants or objects that they can’t identify. Reddit users are nothing if not collectively brilliant. Here is the first post:
The picture was shared by Washington State Police to their Twitter account (below) and then picked up by a Reddit user called u/cordyceps-fungi who posted it to r/whatisthisthing. Quickly, there was a response.
The roadway is open SR7/320th. Troopers and detectives are still looking for a black vehicle believed to be involved in this mornings tragic bicyclist fatality. If you know anything regarding this collision, please call the Washing State Patrol. pic.twitter.com/pafJLeh54i— Trooper Robert Reyer (@wspd1pio) August 9, 2018
A user called u/JeffsNuts immediately recognized the part. And he didn’t just narrow it down to a make or a model. He called the make, model AND year of the vehicle that the part came from.
“1988 Chevy Silverado headlamp bezel” u/JeffsNuts responded.
And he was dead on. Well, not DEAD on, he was off two years. He said it was an ’88 Chevy, but it was actually an ’86 Chevy Silverado.
Following a couple other local tips, the WSP had their man.
WSP detectives made an arrest today for Thursday’s fatal bicyclist hit and run in Eatonville. Reddit users identify a photographed broken car part as a mid 1980s Chevy truck headlight assembly. Local anonymous tip confirms and led to the arrest of a driver of an 1986 Chevy K-10. pic.twitter.com/WaIlkkClfr— Trooper Robert Reyer (@wspd1pio) August 14, 2018
So let this be a lesson to everyone. When all looks hopeless in the bleak realm of the internet, the troll-dominated virtual worlds of social media, remember there can be wonderful moments too.