SUN CITY, AZ — A message in a bottle giving away a free car sparked an unlikely friendship.
Bruno Lachapelle, a French Canadian, finding a once in a lifetime treasure, and enjoying the Arizona sun with Midwestern native Mark Muller, after finding Muller's bottle thrown overboard this past summer.
On July 4, 2019, Mark Muller threw a bottle into the Atlantic Ocean while on a boat near the Bahamas. Muller, who owns a car dealership in Missouri, left his business card and a note saying he would give away a free car to the person who found the bottle and called him.
"The owner of the boat said you should put a message in a bottle," said Muller. I said, 'Hell I'll give them a free car.'" He threw the bottle over the boat, expecting to never see it again.
"My wife said, 'Don't do it! Someone's gonna find it,'" said Muller. "I said no-one's gonna find it."
"I found the bottle on October 10th," said Bruno Lachapelle, a firefighter from Montreal, Canada who was on vacation in the Bahamas three months after Muller threw the bottle in the ocean. "I pick up this thing and it was the bottle. [It said} "Call me. Free truck or car. Mark Muller." And his phone number."
After returning home, Lachapelle called Muller, much to his surprise.
"He said that's incredible, you just won a car or a truck," said Lachapelle. "I said, 'What are you serious?" However, the two eventually settled on a cash payment.
"By the time we figured out what it was going to cost to get the car back across the border, and him driving it back to Quebec and all that. I just gave him a cash offer," said Muller.
Not six months later, Muller invited Lachapelle and his wife to Sun City, where Muller lives for part of the year, to hang out and explore Arizona, somewhere Lachapelle had never been before.
Muller showed the Lachapelles around Arizona, visiting Lake Pleasant, Ben Avery Shooting Facility, and Flemmings Steakhouse. The beginnings of a friendship that both are looking forward to continuing.
"God's honest truth this relationship is just started," said Muller. "We're gonna be long long friends for a very long time."
The story doesn't end here.
Muller said there's another bottle out in the seas somewhere, also thrown into the Atlantic Ocean, with the same prize. Muller said there are four pennies in that bottle, and if whoever finds it can read off the dates of those pennies and provides a picture, proving it was found by that person, he will give them a new car or truck.