August 2022: Found and returned two phones lost kayaking in Occoquan River.

  • from Fairfax (Virginia, United States)

I’m a Search and Recovery expert with the knowledge, skill, and experience to recover your lost items on land and underwater. Please text or call as soon as possible: (703) 598-1435

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Patrick and Kelly were regular renters of kayaks from Penguin Paddling, in Occoquan Virginia. Even though they were familiar with the river, disaster struck when there was an unexpected current. The kayak flipped and their phones sank. Patrick called and told me how one of the phones contained

The Dive Site

their wedding planning information. The wedding was only weeks away, and the information was irreplaceable.

Dive 1: Mrs. Ellis (my safety diver) and I met Patrick and as there was no shore entry, we canoed to the area where the phones were lost. Visibility in the water was about four feet, and the depth was about ten feet. There were large boulders and that meant I had to slowly search in every crevice. Fortunately, I only needed a light, and not my metal detector. There were eels, crawdads, fishing lures, and boat anchors wedged between the boulders. When you watch the video, you can see a barbell someone used as an anchor.


Entry Area




First Phone

I searched the drop area and found Patrick’s phone in about twenty minutes. Kelly’s phone had the wedding information. We spent the rest of the afternoon searching for her phone, but to no avail.




Ring Finder Ray Jones

Dive 2: Two days later, Patrick again met to continue the search and help with all the equipment and the canoe. I expanded the search area but did not locate the phone.

Dives 3 & 4: It wasn’t until five days later that I was able to make another search. This time my friend and fellow Ring Finder Ray Jones came to help. Ray also searched the area and did not find the phone. I modified my search with ropes using a modified jackstay to search further downriver. I finally found Kelly’s phone about 130 feet from the initial drop area.

Kelly’s Phone Found!



I removed the SIM card and put the phone into a bag of rice. The happy couple met with me the next day so I could return the phone. Despite being underwater for nine days, Kelly’s iPhone was able to charge her phone and she retrieved their wedding plans!

Happy Wedding Day!

My thanks to Mike from Penguin Paddling (Home Page Penguin Paddling LLC), who referred me to Patrick and Kelly. Patrick was a great beach watch and provided an excellent account of the incident which greatly aided in the search. Most of all thank you to my wife for her safety and Dive Master support and expert bubble watching for many hours.


Rob Ellis: Search and Recovery Expert… Call/text ASAP, (703)-598-1435


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Don’t give up. Many of my clients have bought, borrowed, or rented a metal detector before calling me. Just because someone has a tool, it doesn’t mean they know how to use it. I use state of the art equipment, and I have thousands of hours of experience searching on land and underwater. If you have tried using a detector without success, please call to see if I can help.

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