Back from the Deep: How Gene and Sandy Ralston Serve the Living by Finding the Dead (Hardcover)

Back from the Deep: How Gene and Sandy Ralston Serve the Living by Finding the Dead By DOUG HORNER Cover Image

Back from the Deep: How Gene and Sandy Ralston Serve the Living by Finding the Dead (Hardcover)


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The dramatic story of an unlikely search and recovery duo who help law enforcement and grieving families with their uncanny knack for locating bodies underwater

A powerful debut for fans of deeply reported stories that follow real people with obsessional passions, and of authors like Tracy Kidder, Sebastian Junger, and Patrick Radden Keefe

When the police and FBI exhaust their abilities and options, and when grieving families run out of resources, their last best hope has been an Idaho couple who have spent their retirement years pursuing lost causes — and have located 130 victims from lakes and rivers across the United States and Canada.

Gene and Sandy Ralston, a married Idaho couple in their mid 70s, are self-taught underwater search-and-recovery specialists who volunteer their time and equipment. And yet the Ralstons are counted among the best in the world. The Ralstons have an uncanny knack for finding bodies in deep water and can regularly find a missing person within hours, sometimes even minutes, of launching their boat.

Law enforcement and emergency response agencies seek out their peculiar expertise, but when the Ralstons' home phone rings it's usually a family member of a missing person. Someone reaching out after the local police and volunteer groups have called off the official search. Someone who heard from a friend of a friend about a couple from Idaho who will travel thousands of miles at the drop of a hat — charging only their travel costs — to help complete strangers.
Doug Horner is a writer and editor from Calgary. He writes essays and deeply reported features on a variety of topics for national and international publications. Doug is drawn to stories that have a strong personal or emotional dimension that provides depth and context to broader issues and abstract ideas. He started his career at a monthly magazine that covers the culture and politics of the Canadian province of Alberta. He has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and English from the University of Calgary and a post-graduate certificate in Journalism from Mount Royal University. Doug enjoys exploring the mountains on backcountry skis when there is snow and by bike or by foot for the rest of the year. This is his first book.
Product Details ISBN: 9781586423841
ISBN-10: 1586423843
Publisher: Steerforth
Publication Date: March 12th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English
An "inspiring look at two people doing demanding work to bring closure to the families of drowning victims.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Doug Horner, from Calgary, tells haunting yet comforting stories about the Ralstons and the victims they have found.” — Literary Review of Canada

“Doug Horner tells us the story of an extraordinary couple who, like the Ferryman in ancient mythology, help the missing get to the other side by finding the certainty of their death. A moving story of this couple's dedication and love as told by a skilled writer.” — Dr. Pauline Boss, author of Ambiguous Loss and The Myth of Closure

"Part character study, part science, part detective story, Back From the Deep takes the reader places few of us have ever gone, and does so with curiosity and compassion in equal measure." — Sallie Tisdale, author of Advice for Future Corpses

"Back from the Deep is a riveting exploration of ambiguous grief and compassion. Horner's skills as a storyteller are on full display as he interweaves rigorous science reporting and a compelling narrative about an astonishing couple. The Ralstons have, through their unique combination of kindness and genius, found a way to provide some solace to the grief-stricken when there is seemingly nothing else to be done. Horner tells their story in all its complexity and always with empathy. This book will stay with me for the rest of my life." — Christina Frangou, independent journalist and recipient of Canada's Landsberg Award
"Doug Horner's Back from the Deep takes readers from the literal cold depths of tragedy and loss, to the peak of human generosity — with some fascinating science along the way. This book is a well-crafted portrait of a remarkable couple. An achievement." — Marcello Di Cintio, author of Driven: The Secret Lives of Taxi Drivers