Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Slimebusters rescue iPhone from sewer.

The Department of Environmental Protection has a squad of city workers on call to fish lost items out of city subways when citizens call 311. Workers rescued Queena Feng's iPhone.

The Department of Environmental Protection has a squad of city workers on call to fish lost items out of city subways when citizens call 311. Workers rescued Queena Feng's iPhone.

They're the patron saints of lost items - as long as the item was dropped down a sewer grate.

The Department of Environmental Protection has a squad of city workers on call, ready to fish dropped valuables out of Gotham's catch basins for free.

All it takes to summon these municipal Saint Anthonys is a phone call to 311 - and a strong stomach to handle the smell.

"I got my iPhone back!" squealed Queena Feng, 20, after a DEP worker plucked her precious hand-held device from a Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, drain yesterday. "I'm really happy. I thought I'd never get it back."

The Brooklyn College student lost her phone Sunday night climbing out of her boyfriend's car. He gave her the iPhone 3GS as a gift last year.

"When I opened the car door, the phone slipped out of my pocket," said Feng.

Her quick-thinking beau suggested they call the city's information hotline. "She was spazzing out," said Victor Yuen, 18. "I was like, 'Let's try calling 311.'"

A 311 operator transferred them to a DEP secretary who took down Yuen's phone number. First thing yesterday morning, the agency called back to schedule a retrieval.

DEP catch basin cleaner Radames Soto met Feng on 14th Ave., removed the grate and used his truck's hydraulic arm to lower a metal claw into the muck.

When the claw resurfaced, dumping a wet wad of trash onto the street, Feng gasped. There was her iPhone in its pink plastic case, covered in slime.

The phone didn't turn on right away, but Feng was hopeful it would after drying out.

"I can't believe it!" gushed her mother, Grace Feng, 49.

The DEP received 1,259 retrieval requests last year and is successful about 20% of the time, said Soto, who's recovered more than one wedding band. "It makes me feel good to know I'm helping the people," he said.

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