Michael Guntrum, a resident of Knox, Pennsylvania, lost his iPhone 4 in March 2015 while he was ice fishing.
"We were having negative-25-degree weather, so me and two buddies went ice fishing," Guntrum told BuzzFeed News. "We were sitting in our portable shanty, and I got a bite on my rod. I laid the phone on my lap, and it slipped off. Instead of landing flat in the snow, it hit its edge and rolled into the hole. I caught the fish — it was a blue gill — but it wasn't worth it."
Normally, losing your iPhone at the bottom of an icy lake would be the end of this story.
But there's more.
Kyle Lake, where Guntrum was fishing, ended up being drained in September 2015 because of structural deficiencies in its dam.
And...someone found his phone!
Daniel Kalgren, a mechanical engineer who lives in western Pennsylvania, told BuzzFeed News he was treasure hunting with his metal detector in the empty lake basin this October when he found Guntrum's iPhone under 6 inches of mud and clay. He was there "to find what people dropped off of boats," he said.
"I took the phone home, cleaned it, and put it in rice — just out of curiosity to see if it would still work," Kalgren told BuzzFeed News.
After two days, it turned on.
"It was the only thing I found that day. I was able to turn it on and use it to look up his number. He knows I have it now, and I'm going to mail it to him," Kalgren told BuzzFeed News.
When Kalgren found Guntrum's phone number on the recovered iPhone and contacted him, Guntrum said he didn't believe it at first.
"I had just been talking about that lake early that day. It was eerie," Guntrum said. "He sent me a picture and asked, 'Does this look familiar?' and I recognized the screensaver."
What kind of case is that?
The phone's survival may have as much to do with its housing as it does with the phone's hardiness. Kalgren said that Guntrum's phone was in an OtterBox iPhone 4 case. Kalgren himself owns an iPhone 6s and keeps it in a LifeProof case.
"I don't know if my current phone would survive at the bottom of a 30-degree lake through a full winter. I'd like to think it would," Kalgren said.
"I'm an Apple person, and this adds to the reasons why I only buy Apple devices," Kalgren told BuzzFeed News.
"It's pretty impressive it still works," Kalgren said.
An Apple spokesperson said this isn't the first time the company's gotten this kind of report. "It never ceases to amaze us, all the incredible iPhone survival stories our customers have shared with us."
So what's Guntrum going to do with his long-lost phone when it arrives in the mail? He said he plans to have it repaired.
"My mom needs a smartphone, so I'll give it to her."
Blake Montgomery is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Blake Montgomery at email@example.com.
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