Already have an account?
Get back to the
Mental Health

After Her Boyfriend Died in the Oakland Fire, This Heartbroken Girlfriend Finds the Unthinkable

View gallery

The devastating warehouse fire that began on Dec. 2 in Oakland, CA has shocked and saddened millions across the country–but especially the friends and family members of those who perished in the blaze.

That includes people like Saya Tomioka, whose boyfriend, Griffin Maddens, was at the warehouse (known by locals as the Ghost Ship) to attend an electronic music party. Sadly, Maddens was killed, as Tomioka mentioned in her emotional post on Facebook.

In her plea, she discussed the first time the two of them visited Times Square together after seeing The Book of Mormon on Broadway. Tomioka and Maddens had kissed in the street after the show, and by chance, they saw a random photographer capturing the moment. She had only ever seen the photo once, but had always longed to find it again, she wrote, asking her friends to share the status and help her find it.

Essentially, she asked the Internet for a miracle–and, only hours later, she got one.

After her post was shared hundreds of times, it appeared on the newsfeed of New York photographer Arken Avan, who had taken photos in Times Square on June 15, 2015, the date Tomioka mentioned in her post. He decided to look through his hard drives, and at 3 a.m. found the photo in question, posting it on Instagram for the grieving girlfriend to see.

View this post on Instagram

For a memory of Griffin Madden, who lost his life in Oakland fire. This image has a tragic story, but please show some love and support, dear friends. Yesterday two people shared with me a facebook post from young lady, where she is searching for a picture. She wrote: "Maybe some facebook miracle would happen… On June 15th, 2015, I remember tears swelling my eyes because the city was so beautiful and amidst the lights, i got to look at the brightest light of all, my sweetie. I cried, and we kissed. Some random photographer captured this very moment, this very kiss.. I never got his name and he just simply showed us the single beautiful snap shot that he was able to capture. I've always longed to find this particular photograph…". More than 300 people shared this post and i decided to pull out my archive, and wasn't sure if that was me, and if i actually have this photograph, cause it was more than year ago and it's more that 200,000 pictures in my street archive. Luckily i found their beautiful image and was so happy i found it and photographed their beautiful moment, but very very sad of this fire happened which took more than 30 lives. I hope this beautiful moment in a photo will stay forever in your memory Saya, for a memory of your love, Griffin Madden! ❤️🙏🏼 • Sincerely, your photographer Arken Avan @newyorkfaces #GriffinAndSaya

A post shared by Arken Avan (@newyorkfaces) on

“I hope this beautiful moment in a photo will stay forever in your memory, Saya, for a memory of your love, Griffin Madden,” he wrote.

DON’T MISS: After Losing Her Husband and Getting Diagnosed with Cancer in a Single Week, Her Next Move Is Breathtaking

Minutes later, she had made his photo her main profile picture. We’re happy that her wish to see it again was granted.

The Oakland warehouse fire claimed the lives of 36 people in all, making it the deadliest fire in the city’s history. About 100 people had gathered for a party sponsored by electronic music label 100% Silk. It took four hours for crews to control the flames.

Over a week later, the official cause of the blaze is still undetermined. Investigations continue.


NEXT: Here are 10 beautiful ways to honor lost loved ones in your home.

More Stories

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.