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North Van couple surprised by return of iPhone dropped into canal

The story of a phone found on the bottom of the Penticton River Canal has gone viral after it was posted by an Iranian couple now living in North Vancouver
An Iranian couple living in North Vancouver were surprised by the return of their iPhone after dropping it into Penticton River Channel. Their story has since gone viral amongt Iranian Twitter users. | photo Mahyar Mehrjoo

A routine selfie-taking moment turned into an extraordinary adventure when an iPhone slipped into a river during a North Vancouver couple’s weekend getaway.

During the August long weekend in Kelowna, an Iranian couple living in North Vancouver had a fun trip. Losing their phone, however, started a series of unexpected and surprising events.

Mahyar Mehrjoo, who works as a system administrator and lives in North Vancouver with his wife, moved to Canada more than four years ago. He remembers how he lost his iPhone in the river.

“We took a two-day vacation in Kelowna, exploring beautiful sceneries and wineries. On the final day, we enjoyed the Penticton River Channel. To take a selfie, my wife removed our phone from around her neck, but it slipped and fell into the river.”

They tried to retrieve the iPhone, but it was unreachable for them because it fell into the river’s deepest part and it got caught in the weeds.

“As soon as it fell, it lost its cell signal and disconnected from the Apple Watch. We looked for help, but no one could find it. It wasn’t a happy ending for our fun trip, and we bought a new iPhone on Facebook Market.” Mehrjoo said.

After two days, when Mehrjoo was at work, he got a notification from Find My iPhone on his phone.

“I had set it to notify me. It showed the phone was found. I opened the map and saw a route from where we lost it by the river to a location in Summerland, not far, maybe a 20-30-minute drive. I was surprised to see it was charging, despite having low battery. I called, but no one answered. I wondered if the finder didn’t want to return it.”

He was still working when the lost phone called him.

“I thought, 'Wow, maybe there’s hope.' I answered and spoke to a friendly guy. He said it was a hobby for him, especially after weekends. He lives close by, goes snorkeling with gear, and finds things people have lost. He asked where I lived. I said North Vancouver. He was in Summerland. I offered to get it on Saturday, but he said he’d ship it if I gave my address. I was happy and thankful. The phone was still charging at the location.”

According to Mehrjoo their communication was based on text messages. Mehrjoo confirmed his address, and the diver sent the receipt and tracking number of the post to Mehrjoo.

“It was really happening, he was really sending it. It was interesting to see the route on the map. It went to Richmond International Airport and dispatched into Canada Post and then to our address. We got there and the package was a bit wet, but he put silicone gel around the phone and bubble wrap. The pictures and the phone were fine even though the iPhone was underwater for days.”

The North Shore News attempted to interview the diver, however, due to personal reasons, he decided not to participate in the interview.

In the past few years, every summer, free divers have been jumping into the Penticton channel to clean up the water and raise awareness about the need of protecting the environment. Besides finding lots of cans and more, they also discover items like cellphones, sunglasses and shopping carts, and they try to find their owners.

Mehrjoo didn’t expect his story to attract attention and reactions from Iranian users on Twitter, but it received more than 2,700 likes and around 200,000 views.

The tweet received numerous questions from curious individuals, and Mehrjoo provided some documentation from Apple’s website to explain how the Lost mode works and how he had set it up.

There are some lessons that Mehrjoo thinks others can take away from his experience.

“After taking a selfie, remember to put the iPhone back on your neck or put the necklace back on and make sure it has not slipped.”

One of the Twitter users summed up the story nicely: “If you’ve lost your phone, don’t lose your hope in Canada.”

Hamid Jafari is a Vancouver-based freelance journalist who writes about the Iranian community in Canada, art, culture, and social media trends. His work for the North Shore News is supported by New Canadian Media. [email protected]