Lost and found: farmer’s cell phone returned after 2,600-mile journey

Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 1:59 PM CST
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NEW SALEM, N.D. (KFYR) - This might be the ultimate lost and found story. It involves a cell phone, a load of grain and a cross-country trip.

The good news: this story has a happy ending.

Harvest time is a busy time. It’s a race against the clock to get the crops off the field. In the busyness of the season, there’s no extra time to deal with problems like lost cell phones or television interviews.

So, on this day, that interview is a task added to farmwife Marcia Wilkens’ to-do list.

She’s happy to share the story of this phone and its 2,600-mile journey.

Her husband, Travis, dropped it while unloading a load of grain at the New Salem elevator.

“He said it went, ‘ting, ting, ting,’ and then it went down the grate with the grain,” she recalled.

Travis and the elevator workers figured it was gone forever. Marcia picked up a new phone, and the harvest continued until Travis got a text on his new phone.

His old phone had been found in a load of grain at EGT in Longview, Washington.

Shift Supervisor Seth Honrud put on his detective hat and tracked Travis down.

“I texted the number,” said Honrud. “And I wrote, ‘I’m looking for a Mr. Wilkins. We found a cell phone. Just wanted to know if you’d like it, returned it.’”

The Wilkens couldn’t believe it. The phone arrived a few days later.

“It was wrapped in bubble wrap, all safe and sound,” said Marcia. “The phone did have a military-grade protector around it. That didn’t make it.”

But the phone itself arrived in relatively good working condition.

“It’s gone through augers, elevators, you know, conveyor belts. Who knows what it went through to get there,” said Marcia.

Honrud included a couple of baseball caps, a map that showed the phone’s route and a note, thanking Travis for being a farmer.

“He went above and beyond. Honest people appreciating farmers,” said Marcia.

Honrud grew up on a Montana wheat farm.

“I just have a connection with our farmers. I mean, those are the people I come from,” he said.

This was his chance to thank a farmer.

Honrud says in his more than 10 years working for EGT, he’s found all kinds of weird things in loads of grain; everything from buckets to backpacks and lots of cell phones.

This is only the second phone he’s found in working condition though. The other belonged to one of his brother’s high school classmates. He recognized the photo on the lock screen of that phone and was able to return it to its owner.