MESA, Ariz. (KNXV) — Connie Wickstrom and her band of divers are using their passion for underwater exploration to return items long thought to be gone for good.
“We’re gonna drop down there, and then coast along the right side there,” said Wickstrom standing at the edge of the Salt River. “It’s really heartwarming. People are so shocked when we call them and say, 'Hey, I found your phone at 26 feet deep,' and they’re so excited.”
For the past year, each and every week, the team combs the floor of the popular tubing route along the Salt River at the request of desperate visitors.
“We are gripping onto boulders and holding on as we scan around. It is an intense body workout for sure,” said Wickstrom. “But at this point, we know quite a few spots where people lose things as they float the river.”
While divers battle currents and murky water below, spotters keep an eye on them from above.
So far, they’ve helped find and return more than 100 still working cellphones as well as keys, wallets, sunglasses, and the list goes on.
Charlette Miller, 16, and her mother reached out to the group.
The teen says she lost her cell phone this past weekend after taking a tumble off her tube.
“We were here for a birthday and a friend of mine got scared by a bug flying by her and I fell off my tube in the commotion,” said Miller with a chuckle. “I tried searching for it but it was just too deep, and the current was too strong. I definitely thought it was gone. My mom's like, "Oh, I found these people on Facebook and we’re gonna see if they can find your phone.'”
“I had come across their Facebook page and decided to reach out,” said Charlotte’s mom, Tracy. “Connie asked a few questions about when she lost it, where she lost it.”
Sure enough, in came a text hours later with a picture of the phone and the phrase, "I found it."
“I was just like no way,” said Charlott.
It’s a reaction the close-knit group divers thrive on.
“You know once something goes into the water people just assume, 'Yup, it’s gone,'” said diver Joe Sheehan.
The group says they've found working phones that had been underwater for a week. In one case, a phone survived a year in the river because it was in a protective waterproof case.
This story was originally reported by Cameron Polom on abc15.com.