A woman was thrilled to be reunited with the last text messages sent by her late father after a diver recovered the iPhone she lost in a river - 15 MONTHS earlier.
Erica Bennett, 39, was doubly stunned to hear a diver had found the device buried in silt on the Edisto River bed, in Ridgeville, South Carolina, USA .... and it still worked.
Personal trainer Erica lost the iPhone overboard while enjoying a river float trip in June 2018.
Her husband Jason Bennett, 49, a videographer and photographer, dived into the water to try and retrieve the cell phone, but couldn't find it.
Erica cried when she realised the device was gone and she had lost the last text messages from her father William Sikes.
William, who died that month from leukemia at the age of 63, had left her one last sweet birthday greeting: "Happy Birthday baby!! Hope you are having a great one!!"
Erica, of Charleston, South Carolina, said: "That was one of the things that hit me hard.
I thought I would never be able to read those words again.
"All I remember is thinking of all the photos and texts I had just lost in the bottom of that river. Memories I thought I would never get back."
Erica posted a message to Facebook in the hope that someone would find it the lost phone.
A year later (September 2019), Michael Bennett (no relation), was scuba diving in the Edisto River and saw a large rock in eight feet of murky water - with a phone lanyard trailing behind it.
Michael, 25, said: "I have found hundreds of phones on my dives, but most of them do not turn on. I figured it would never work."
Full-time YouTuber Michael took the iPhone home with him, plugged it into a charger and the device turned on.
Since he did not know the iPhone's password, he removed the SIM card and inserted it into a different phone.
Michael, of Charlotte, North Carolina, eventually found Erica's cell phone number by retrieving her contacts.
Luckily Erica had kept the same cell phone digits.
The personal trainer was getting into bed when she received Michael's call on 22 September.
"I thought it was a spam call at first," she said. It was unbelievable. I felt like I was getting punk'd."
The next day, Michael delivered the long-lost iPhone to Erica, reuniting her with the messages from her late father.
She said: "There were big waves of emotions. I felt really happy and relieved."
The cell phone's screen is dimmer and the battery drains quicker after spending more than a year on a river bed.
But Erica said the most important thing is that she can now read her father's last words again.
"I have those memories back now," she said.
"It's just a phone. But then again, it's not."