September 02. 2018 1:38PM

Well traveled, waterlogged phone returned to 12-year-old Derry owner

Union Leader Correspondent

DERRY — After spending a week buried in the wet sand of Hampton Beach, an unlikely discovery by a vacationing couple and a trip to and from Texas, a fully functional iPhone 8 Plus was reunited with 12-year-old Madison Lague of Derry last Friday.

Jen Lague, Madison’s mother, said the phone’s odyssey began on July 21, when the family was spending the day at Hampton Beach.

Jen says that she, her husband, Ron, and Madison were all standing in the water along the shoreline late that evening when a large wave was about to hit them.

“The three of us ran up on shore to where it was dry,” Jen said. “And the minute Madison got up there, she reached her hand into the pocket of her hoodie, looked at me and said, ‘My phone’s gone.’”

The family spent the next 20 minutes frantically combing the entire area of the beach where they had been standing. Jen says she even attempted to locate the phone by pinging it with Apple’s Find My iPhone locator app, but was unable to pick up any signal from the missing device.

“We searched and searched and searched before I jokingly said, ‘Madison, the phone’s probably in the belly of a shark somewhere and is out to sea by now.’”

Madison says she was devastated by the loss of her phone, which she had only received last December.

“I was like, ‘Wow, my phone is gone forever ... I’m never going to get that back,” she recalled.

Although Jen said she planned to eventually bring her daughter to the store to look into getting a replacement, she decided to wait until the start of the school year as a way to teach Madison a lesson about living without a phone for a while.

Over the next month, everything went back to normal for the Lague family. But three weeks later, Jen got a text message from her son, informing her that the Find My iPhone app had just picked up a signal from Madison’s phone — in Austin, Texas.

“I go live on the app using my own phone and I’m literally watching this little dot — Madison’s phone — moving around this house in Texas.”

Jen said she immediately tried to call the missing phone, but the call went straight to voicemail.

Police in Austin and Hampton told Jen there wasn’t much they could do to get the phone back. 

Feeling frustrated, Jen finally decided to send a text message to the missing phone and hope for the best.

“I texted Madison’s phone and tried to sound peppy and happy and said, ‘Hi! You found my daughter’s phone. Would you please call this number?’ And no more than 30 seconds later my phone rings with a call from Austin.”

At the other end of the line was Erin Connolly-Strong of Austin, who informed Jen that she and her husband, Greg, had stumbled upon the phone on July 28 when they were on vacation in Hampton.

They spotted the phone while walking along the tideline looking for shells. After excavating the waterlogged phone, the couple brought it home to Texas and submerged it in a bowl of uncooked rice in hopes of drying the device out enough to repair it.

Following her conversation with Jen, Erin boxed up the iPhone and shipped it back to the Granite State.

Neither Erin nor Greg could be reached for comment, but the couple did send Madison a handwritten note in which they credited Madison’s PopSocket — a collapsible grip and stand for cellphones — with saving the day.

“My husband saw the small round picture next to a shell,” wrote Erin in the note. “It was low tide and we were walking on the hard-packed sand looking for shells. ‘Is that a unicorn cat?’ he said, as he bent down to pick up what he thought was some kind of coin.”

Madison says she’s thrilled to have the phone back, and added that she plans to be much more careful with it in the future.

“I was always responsible with my phone, but I think that I’m going to be even more safe with it from now on.”

I’m probably going to leave it in the car instead of having it in my pocket at the beach,” Madison said.