Rebecca Bunting saw the world through a different lens, one that saw beauty in the forgotten and forlorn. The evidence is displayed on the 30-year-old photographer's Instagram, where she referred to herself as a "gypsy soul."
She was into "urban exploration," also known as "urbex" in photography circles — the "exploring of urban, (mostly) abandoned structures," according to Digital Photography School.
Bunting, a bartender in south Philly, according to the The Philadelphia Inquirer, photographed the rusty, crumbling, broken detritus of the city — in abandoned prisons, hospitals, theaters, churches, amusement parks and the like.
She made a name for herself in the urbex world where abandoned buildings are known as "bandos," and she was known as @_bword, her Instagram handle.
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Urban explorers stray from the beaten path. So there she was on Saturday evening in northeast Philadelphia, inside a storm drain with her boyfriend, when a flash flood swept them into the swollen Pennypack Creek, WPVI in Philadelphia reported.
He survived. She did not.
Police said she was in the drain to take pictures, WPVI reported.
“She was the bando queen,” Carly Weiss, a friend and fellow urban explorer, told the Inquirer. “There’s no doubt about it.”
Another friend, Cristen DeDomenico, told the paper: "She was always trying to get really cool photos. She's really talented. She could bring out beauty in any landscape."
Her boyfriend, according to WPVI, told witnesses he was able to pull himself out of the raging waters. A neighbor who heard a man screaming for help called 911.
The neighbor told WPVI that when he ran out he saw Bunting's boyfriend standing next to the creek, looking into the water and screaming Bunting's name. He suffered minor injuries.
Dive teams had to call off their search on Saturday because the water, reportedly 10 feet deep in some places, was too dangerous and murky to search, local media reported.
On Sunday morning they found Bunting's body, trapped under furniture in the creek. Police said she probably died as soon as she hit the creek.
She was the sixth victim to die in Pennypack Creek in eight years, according to the Inquirer.
Friends who knew her as a bartender at Miller's Ale House in South Philadelphia said Bunting had just moved to the city about a year ago from Maryland.
"Rebecca was just a beautiful person. Anyone who met her could tell right away she was different," friend Laura Dahl told WPVI. "Anytime she entered a room it just lit up, she made everybody laugh.
As news of Bunting's death hit the photo community, talk turned to safety. The Inquirer pointed to the death of another urban explorer in 2015, a New Jersey photographer who fell off the roof of the 52-story Four Seasons Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
"It's a sad reminder to be extremely careful when choosing photo locations and to never put yourself in harm's way or a situation with no escape," F Stoppers, a community-based photo news website, wrote after Bunting died.
People left condolences on Bunting's last Instagram post, dated May 30. It's a photo taken inside an old church of an organ sitting next to two rows of pews, empty of worshippers.
"I wish I had followed you earlier," wrote someone named Photosvegas. "Take good pics in heaven. RIP."