Are you ready for a story so unbelievable, it ought to be a myth? It happened a couple of weeks ago, on Postavaru Massif, at an altitude of over 1,600 meters (5,000 ft). A Romanian filmmaker was snowboarding off-piste, while shooting with a drone and an action camera. The almost impossible feat went awfully wrong moments later…
Alexandru Prepelita’s idea for a December ride through the ungroomed snow on Postavaru Massif was pretty straightforward: could he go downhill while livestreaming with his Phantom 4 Pro drone? “I knew it wasn’t an easy feat; [it was] not impossible, mind you, but you usually need two hands to control the drone”, he told Techthelead. Besides controlling a drone with the mobile-powered joystick, the filmmaker counted on a GoPro Hero 6 for action shots.
He never intended to go for more than 30 meters on the snow-covered terrain, but adrenaline kicked in. He was more than one kilometer away from the starting point when, during a backflip, his Samsung S8 fell off from its case (attached to the drone’s joystick) in the pristine snow. Prepelita took a fall as well, but he got up unharmed.
His three-month old S8 wasn’t so lucky. It was now buried under four inches of soft snow, nowhere to be seen. The chances of recovering it once the sun set were minimal, especially because “I had deactivated Bluetooth connection to save battery, so there was no way I could find it with an app from my smartwatch.”
Things were getting bleaker by the minute. Without access to a metal detector, the filmmaker’s only hope was to hear its ringing sound. So, he did what any of us would do in his situation: borrowed the ranger’s phone to call his own. It became clear that the device was in a bad signal zone. Discouraged, Prepelita gave it a rest for the night. Maybe the following day, with the sun up in the sky, he’d be more lucky.
More than 24 hours had passed. Although it was warmer during the day, the S8 had spent the night covered in snow, at low temperatures. Even if he found the phone, there was no telling if it would work anymore. Prepelita went back to the place where he fell – no sign of a shiny, bezel-less smartphone.
But here is where his smart devices gave a helping hand. First, the drone; with the audio picked up from the previous day, the rider realized that the drop propelled his phone much further than he initially thought.
That complicated things – a lot. Where some of us would have given up hope and returned home, Prepelita displayed quick thinking and asked Bixby for help: “Hi Bixby, Turn on Bluetooth!” It was a long shot, he was aware of that.
But what do you know – the assistant actually heard him! He peeked at his Garmin smartwatch and saw that the S8 was in range. Within seconds, the filmmaker used the “Find my phone” option only to hear, relieved, the sound of his phone in the distance. It was almost out of juice – 4% battery left – but it was enough!
More than one day after the snowboarding accident happened, this guy found his S8 phone. It endured freezing temperatures during the night, covered in a thick layer of snow all the while, but it was still working. We love a happy ending! As for Prepelita, there’s one thing he knows after this wild adventure: “I’ll never deactivate my phone’s Bluetooth again, that’s for sure.”