ROCKPORT – Underwater miracles happen. Example: A student diver finding a woman’s lost cell phone in 25 feet of water off Back Beach in Rockport.
Laura Hernandez from Colombia was visiting Cape Ann from New York where she is studying English. She paddle boarded but fell, losing her cell phone in the watery depths. She swam to find it but couldn’t see far because of the seaweed.
“I was visiting family and friends for the weekend and although it’s an amazing place to visit, my happiness of being in Rockport vanished when my phone disappeared in the water! said divers often come to Back Beach to dive and pick up so I woke up early the next day to pick up the divers and tell them what had happened the night before to see if they could help me,” says Hernandez: “I had information in there that I may not have been able to retrieve.”
It was an iPhone 13 in a pink waterproof case.
She found a class in progress early Sunday morning, just hours before she had to leave to return to New York.
“I wanted to share the incredible series of events,” Hernandez continued. “The phone had been under water for about 20 hours and although I thought it would be impossible to find, a miracle happened.”
Among the divers taking a certification course was Vanessa Kahn, 26, of Peabody.
“I’m a new diver, and it was the first dive of the day, so I had no idea what it was going to be like there,” Kahn said. “It was my first time at Back Beach and our first real open sea dive because the day before we worked on skills.”
Hernandez approached dive master, Larry Bettencourt of Undersea Divers in Danvers, whose response was that in all honesty he didn’t think they were going to find him. But he asked her to leave a name and number just in case, but explained that her main responsibility was her class of divers.
“(Hernandez) pointed to an area of high seas and said it was over there,” Kahn said. “We were a class of six and we had to stick to our schedule. But after a few hours the divemaster said to dive in the area Laura pointed out and comb through as we headed back to shore. He kept saying ‘I don’t think we’re going to find it.’
Kahn was diving right next to the instructor when she spotted this bright pink waterproof case.
“I knew exactly what it was and swam out to get it. Larry turned around to make sure we were all there and I waved the phone underwater and he came over to give me a high five and one punch. Later that day, he said that really made his day. He was so happy,” Kahn recounted.
And as if Poseidon himself was celebrating, the phone’s screen turned off with a lighting effect when she picked it up.
“Vanessa Kahn, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, came out of the water with my phone in her hand. My phone is in perfect condition and I left Rockport super happy and even more motivated to come back because of the friendly people, great beaches, and fun activities like scuba diving, kayaking, and paddle boarding,” Hernandez said. “Thank you divers, you make Rockport even more interesting and comfortable.”
Kahn, who works in marketing and communications as a digital media specialist at the New England Aquarium, had another gift for Hernandez.
She was able to take a selfie of the dive group coming out of the ocean on Hernandez’s cellphone, thinking it would be a fun surprise when Hernandez found him in his cellphone photos, which she did.
“I learned in my course that you always want to be respectful, whether it’s the underwater sea creatures, the people using the beach, or the locals,” Kahn said. “I’ll never forget that experience, that before I even got certified, I pulled a phone out of the bottom of the ocean. I was soaked and she came up to me and hugged me. It was such a positive experience.”