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US farmer drops iPhone in grain bin, gets it back from Japan

An intrepid iPhone went on an accidental journey across the sea after getting sucked into a grain elevator, but a happy ending was in order.

Kevin Whitney gets his phone back
Kevin Whitney checks out his long-lost phone. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Losing a smartphone can be a traumatic experience, but often you have hope that it will turn up if you look in the right places. When Oklahoma farmer Kevin Whitney dropped his iPhone into a grain bin full of sorghum last October, he gave up on ever seeing it again. He figured it was permanently lost among 280,000 pounds of grain.

Sometimes, minor phone-related miracles do occur. That iPhone is now back in Whitney's possession, many months later, after traveling across the world in a grain shipment. The iPhone was moved along by truck, barge, and ship on its journey. A worker at a grain facility in Japan found it, sleuthed out the owner, and mailed it back to Whitney.

The smartphone seems to have weathered its odyssey quite well. Whitney was able to fire it up and access its precious cargo of memorable photos from Whitney's daughter's wedding and other family occasions. "It's crazy. I can't believe it," Whitney told WPTV. He muses on what a small world it is.

This isn't the first tale of extraordinary gadget survival we've come across. A kayaker lost his iPhone beneath the waves for 82 days before having it returned, in working order, by a beachcomber. A GoPro camera took an even funkier tumble by dropping from a skydiver's helmet and landing in a pigpen, where it was found months later. Whitney's iPhone, however, trumps both of those for sheer distance traveled.