iPhone survives months underwater, symbolizes brighter days ahead to owner

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ROANE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – Tracy Perry was puzzled to find messages from friends that someone found her missing cellphone.

She hadn’t misplaced a phone. When she saw a picture of an iPhone, with a photo from her wedding day set as the home screen, she realized it was her husband’s phone he lost more than four months ago.

The phone has been returned. Despite being underwater for months, it works.

Damage-wise, she’s only discovered a broken microphone. While that may be an incredible comeback for this piece of technology, the find means much more to Tracy. To her, it’s a sign.

Her husband, Keith, fainted and fell while on a walk near the Clinch River in Kingston in late August. He eventually came to, returned home, but without his phone.

Tracy returned to the spot multiple times over the next few days, but eventually wrote it off as in the water and never to be seen again.

Prior to the fall, Keith experienced a stroke in August 2018, days before the two were married. He was making progress, and the fainting episode brought them a few steps in the opposite direction.

He was working some, which Tracy said helped his morale and their finances. The months ahead would be tough for their family.

“He fights every day to get better, and some days are better and some days aren’t. It’s hard to watch somebody that’s very strong not win a battle,” she said.

Throughout that period, their ability to make rent, car payments, and celebrate the holidays were uncertain.

Perry remembers the generosity of friend, coworkers, and even strangers to carrying them through the rough patch. Keith is back to making progress and the two are doing much better going into the new year, but the phone symbolizes everything a new chapter to Tracy.

“It seems so silly…just a lost phone, but it was the beginning of a very tough time…to get this back at the beginning of this year, it’s just like God saying ‘I haven’t forgotten you, that you’re still on my mind,'” she said.

Phillip James found the phone.

He said he often asks God for an opportunity to bless another person.

“He always does and I always get a blessing out of it,” he said.

The opportunity to return this iPhone came late November or early December, he said he doesn’t remember the exact date. On one of his daily walks when he noticed “something” sticking up in the mud.

He found it in a spot where water receded.

“God had a purpose for this. He blessed her, but in reality, he blessed me through being able to meet her,” James added.

When James noticed it was a phone, he thought to himself it would never turn on. He took the phone home, scrubbed it to get rid of the mud, and put it in a bag with packing material to get some of the water out of the phone.

A few days later, he sat it in the sun to continue drying out the moisture.

He tried to turn the phone on several times a month after the find and had no luck. He nearly gave up.

“The other morning, I was getting up to go to church and I thought, I’m going to try that phone one more last time, and I plugged it in and it came on.”

While it would likely require a tech expert at Apple to explain how the phone survived months under water, Tracy already has the answer: “God is saying, ‘keep on. I’ve got you through the valley, let’s climb the mountain.’ And, I’m ready to climb the mountain. I’m ready to see what is the next book to open.”


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