MESA — Connie Wickstrom, also known as the Salty Scuba Chick, 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 with a laugh. “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 cell phones as well as keys, wallets, sunglasses, and the list goes on.
“Where we find it was around this bend right here,” said Wickstrom walking along the bank with 16-year-old Charlette Miller.
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 Charlotte expressing her disbelief.
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.
Thanks to the Salty Scuba Chick and her aquatic investigators, that’s no longer the case in these waters.
“We’ll come out looking for a phone and then we’ll find three more that we didn’t even know were there,” said Wickstrom. “If it’s not on right away then we’ll pull the SIM card out and stick it into a dead phone and just find the phone number and call the person and say hey we found your phone. We’ve got a whole list of things we’re looking for out here and until we find it all, we’re not stopping."
She says most phones can still work after being underwater for a week.
In fact, she says they found one phone that was in a protective waterproof case that still worked after being lost for more than a year.
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