UPDATE: The Coates family got their bags back after they were found in Merced.
Dan Coates said he got a call from a man saying the Coates’ bags were found ditched by the side of the road near a house. The Coates family immediately drove up to confirm it was their things.
Besides cash and some electronics, all of their things were still inside the bags — including their ID’s.
Dan said Madera Police weren’t able to lift any fingerprints from the bags, so there is still no suspect information. If you know anything, give them a call.
MADERA, California — A family visiting California from Idaho lost everything during a pit stop in Madera. The Coates family just wanted to make beautiful memories together, now they’re figuring out how to get home.
All day Wednesday, Dan and Atina Coates — with their kids Caelum and Ester — took in the sights and beauty that is Yosemite National Park. Their next stop was the Los Angeles area, but first they decided to spend the night in Madera.
Since their hotel was next to a Black Bear Diner, the family decided to eat dinner there first. Halfway through their meal, Dan went out to their rental car.
He first saw the glass around it.
“There was glass right [next to the car], [I thought] did someone break a bottle,” he said.
Eventually, Dan would notice a side window and the rear window was smashed in. All of the family’s bags were long gone, including a $5,500 machine that helps Dan sleep at night.
Atina describes the whole thing in one word: frustrating. When we met the Coates family, they were still in their clothes from Wednesday. They also had gone to Walmart to try and replace some of what was taken.
Atina started to tear up when describing what they bought.
“Just all the things you take for granted that you just have,” she said.
Several of the family’s ID cards were taken, causing an immediate worry because they’re scheduled to fly back to Idaho at 6 a.m. Friday.
“There’s all this anxiety of, well, how do I get on a plane,” Atina said. “I don’t have photo ID.”
The Coates say insurance will cover the car’s damage and at least some of what was taken. To whoever did this, Dan has one message.
“When we realize we made bad decisions, there’s an opportunity to change,” he said. “If you take that opportunity, then you could become a better person.”
Madera Police are asking anyone with information about this to give them a call. The Coates family late afternoon Thursday were informed some of their things may be in Merced.
At last check, they were going to check it out.