One woman's mission to save her phone after dropping it onto a neighbour's balcony

Liz Bertorelli dropped her phone down a story onto her neighbour's balcony. All she could do was "make contraptions and tweet about it."
Bertorelli showing off the tools she used to show the Twitter world how she was sharing her story without her phone. (Liz Bertorelli / Twitter)

Story transcript

Liz Bertorelli had a dilemma. On Tuesday night, she dropped her beloved iPhone from her fourth floor Toronto apartment to the balcony below. 

The view of Bertorelli's phone on the third floor apartment of her building. (Liz Bertorelli )

After unsuccessfully attempting to wake up her neighbours and inform the building manager, Bertorelli decided to document her iPhone's journey on Twitter. The saga lasted nearly two days, through rain and several rescue attempts, and amassed a huge following online

Bertorelli spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off about how she finally retrieved her phone from the third floor balcony on Thursday night. Here is part of their conversation.

Liz, what were you doing when you lost your phone?

I was cleaning up my apartment and the balcony after I had a few friends over for dinner. I also had a couple glasses of wine, not sure if that had anything to do with it. [My phone] slipped out of the back of my jeans, which is a very awful place to even have your phone in the first place.

So at what point did you launch Operation Rescue?

After it started to gain some traction on Twitter I was like, "You know what, this is a hilarious story. You know, as much as I miss my phone, let's make light of this situation." I personally love storytelling to begin with.

I actually left my phone ... on that third floor balcony for like a good eight-hour day.

Ouch. Terrible.

I know. And I checked the weather forecast, my coworkers were all laughing about it too. So when I got home it actually didn't rain all day, and I got home and it started to rain. So I lured down a bag … and placed it on top of the iPhone so it wouldn't get completely destroyed. But it was still working. I don't know how the iPhone was still turning on after 19 hours.

You were tweeting, and sending out messages and getting responses from all over the place right?

Yeah, yeah. It's crazy.

What were people suggesting you do?

I mean a lot of people were like, "Go knock on their door." And I was like, "Come on now. I've done that several times. I've left notes. I found their mailbox. I left them notes there. I threw notes down. I knocked on other neighbours' doors." It's honestly like no one lives in the building.   

But some people were drawing me diagrams of things I could use in my house. I took a picture of all the tall objects I owned and was like, "Someone build me something." I duct taped two brooms together to try and sweep the phone closer to the edge where I could pick it up. But it was just hilarious. The internet is a funny place.

You actually made contact with it, with a series of brooms?

No, no that was a big fail. That was the first attempt. I tried it with a Swiffer [and] some duct tape. I probably would have needed an extra broom for the height. So that ended up failing completely.

Then I went to work again. Came back and was like, "Okay. Tonight is the night. It would have been three nights."

So by night three you were getting a bit desperate?

I mean, I wanted a resolution because I wanted a happy ending for everyone. Like at the end of the day I am lucky to have a phone in the first place, and there are way worse things in life than losing your  phone on a balcony.

And there's nothing you can do right? All you can do is make contraptions and tweet about it at that point.

How many contraptions did you make?

Maybe three or four. My final contraption ended up working and it was a miracle. I still cannot believe it worked.  

What did you do?

So I had a drone which broke, so I ended up taking all the wings off of it because I wanted to lure something down to the balcony to hopefully make contact with the phone. I found a beer coaster in my house ... put it at the bottom of the drone so it would have a flat surface to actually touch the glass of the iPhone.

I wrapped that in packing tape and then I put strings through the coaster, through the drone and up so we could have a pulley system. Then I used a corkscrew as a weight on the top of the drone just to have leverage to drop it onto the phone.

Luckily, a second attempt with the new contraption worked. We lured it up. The iPhone was literally was stuck to the tape, like half of it was, and it managed to make the flight up.

And you filmed all of this? Sent it out to the world.

Well they needed to know.

And what about your neighbours. Did they ever come home?

No they're still not there. I checked this morning. So now I'm like, they have to be on vacation. There's no way.

Or you have another story.

Or they've been hiding in their house, tweeting about me tweeting about them. And we don't even know.  

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Liz Bertorelli.