When Preston lent his car to his cousin on Monday, he wasn't expecting her to forget where she left it.
She had never driven in downtown Minneapolis before and was nearly sideswiped navigating the busy streets. Rattled, she pulled into the first ramp she could find, somewhere near Capella Tower, she told Preston, who preferred not to have his last name used to protect his relative from embarrassment.
She left her parking ticket in the vehicle, Preston said, and went about her business.
Later, when she couldn't remember where she'd parked, she tried to use her phone to help retrace her steps. It said she was 10 to 12 minutes away from the building at 225 S. 6th Street.
Lately, her phone's GPS had been faulty — over- or underestimating how far she was from a location, and she was unable to retrace her steps on foot.
"It was like this whole perfect storm of a situation," he said.
They made phone calls to ramps across downtown, to Preston's insurance company and to the police. No one had seen the missing Honda, and Preston had heard horror stories of cars being lost in downtown Minneapolis for weeks or even years.
After two days of searching, Preston turned to Reddit to ask for help finding his car. He included all the details his cousin could remember about the inconspicuous ramp in a post in the local r/Twin Cities forum.
"This is a last-ditch effort," he wrote.
He was expecting maybe two or three comments but got more than 200 from people leaving suggestions or patiently waiting for updates. There were some skeptics who asked if Preston really trusted his family member's memory. And there were those who went out and checked ramps themselves when they had extra time.
On Thursday morning, a woman sent Preston a photo from inside the NRG Energy Center ramp at 9th Street and 3rd Avenue. She asked: "Is this your car?"
It was. Surprised and relieved, Preston said he tried to offer her a reward, but she refused. She told him she knew the downtown parking ramps well, and parked at the NRG Energy Center ramp instead of her normal spot in order to do some investigating.
"Nobody with the description that I gave knew this ramp, knew where it was; they had people checking, and nobody knew," Preston said. "The fact that people on Reddit were like, 'it's this one' — I think that's amazing, and I think it really shows that there are good people out there."