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Scuba instructor finds Utah man's phone at bottom of reservoir two years after losing it

Posted at 5:14 PM, Jul 16, 2021

DEER CREEK RESERVOIR (KSTU) -- One Utah man dropped his phone at the bottom of a reservoir and had no hope of ever getting it back until one person at the right place and time found it.

One of the last times Evan Byington was at Deer Creek Reservoir, he was ice fishing with his buddy.

“I usually only go out on the ice once or twice a season with my neighbor," said Byington.

Byington loves the outdoors and is not a stranger to finding things left behind by other travelers.

Once, Byington was hunting and found a pack with a wallet left on the trail.

"On the way home, my friend had said to the hunter ‘maybe someone will find it and return it,' to which he replied, nobody's that honest,'" said Byington.

Despite what the hunter had said, Byington found the wallet and returned it to him.

It's a story Byington has reflected on many times since, especially when Byington lost something while out ice fishing.

Byington stood up while out on the ice, forgetting his phone was on his lap.

"It jumped off my lap and just went across, right through the hole," said Byington.

The crystal clear water showed where the phone landed at 20 or more feet at the bottom of the reservoir.

The only opening in the nearly two feet of ice was the small hole for Byington's fishing line -- he knew he'd never see his phone, credit cards, driver's license and I.D.'s again.

“I canceled my credit card, went in and got a new driver's license, and got my new card in the mail," said Byington.

At this point, it seems like Byington just has really bad luck but more than two years later, his luck changed.

Matthew Wesselink is a scuba instructor out of Colorado.

A month ago, Wesselink brought his students to Deer Creek Reservoir.

"We go there all the time to Utah," said Wesselink.

On this trip, in particular, Wesselink and his students stayed for a few more days and spent time at Deer Creek Reservoir.

It's not uncommon for Wesselink to find things like GoPros, scuba masks, paddleboard oars and sunglasses while scuba diving.

This time, Wesselink found a phone with a wallet and ID belonging to Byington.

“I drop down and 20 feet down there was a phone right in front of me," said Wesselink.

Wesselink went the extra mile, not only finding Byington on Facebook but replacing the dollar bills at the bank.

"There were 56 dollars of cash in there and you could tell it had been there a long time because it was diluted," said Wesselink.

The integrity behind the gesture was inspired by Wesselink's time serving in the army.

"It's great that there are still kind and loving individuals who are honest, like Matthew," said Byington.

The two men are planning to meet up in August at Deer Creek Reservoir where Wesselink will return the phone and money.

This story originally reported by Erin Cox on