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Divers in Claiborne County recover hundreds of lost items, including sentimental one for an officer

The bracelet belonged to Knoxville Police Officer Matt Lawson, who wears it in memory of his brother.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — 'Need a Diver' divers in Claiborne County have recovered hundreds upon hundreds of lost items from the depths of surrounding waterways. 

"We do phones, glasses, keys, wallets, all the way up to large house boots, trucks, cars, golf cards," said Caleb Bellin.

Need a Diver officially started in 2021. People in the community can contact the divers, Bellin and Jason Hopkins, to help them locate items that have been dropped in rivers or lakes. 

"We do fantastic stuff for people, we get stuff back that they would never have thought they'd get back," Bellin said.

They find $1,000 iPhones, $300 watches, or expensive sunglasses. Some other shocking finds have been laptops, purses and drones. But, on Memorial Day weekend, Jason Hopkins was able to recover something priceless.

"That was the most incredible experience in my entire diving career. It still kind of brings tears to my eyes today thinking about that," Hopkins said.

Officer Matt Lawson with the Knoxville Police Department was boating on Norris Lake. When he went swimming in the water, his bracelet fell off his arm.

"It's a memorial bracelet, a soldier's memorial bracelet," Lawson said.

The bracelet was a gift from another officer. It was in memory of Lawson's brother, Staff Sergeant Alexander Scott Lawson, who died by suicide in 2019.

"He succumbed to PTSD and traumatic brain injury," Lawson said.

RELATED: Suicide Awareness Month: Spotting signs of suicidal thoughts and how to intervene

The bracelet was a memory of his brother, and Lawson said he wore the bracelet all the time.

"When I noticed it was gone, it was just kind of a punch in the gut feeling just sick to my stomach," Lawson said.

Not only does the bracelet represent Lawson's brother, but it also represents his line of work. Lawson is on the Co-Responder team with KPD. It's a partnership between the department and the Mcnabb Center that pairs a master's-level behavioral health specialist alongside a could involve someone with behavioral health needs. 

RELATED: McNabb Center and KPD co-responder program approved for more funding to expand

The people on the boat with Lawson were able to get in contact with Hopkins. He accepted the job, free of cost.

"When I found out that that was that belonged to the brother of someone who fought for me, my family, and all of our families. It hit home quick," Hopkins said. 

He dived 50 feet under the water and after about 6 minutes of searching, he located the shiny silver bracelet.

"It was a true honor for me to be able to take part in such a special recovery on such a special day," Hopkins said. "You just never know when you know what you're gonna recover and how sentimental that is to someone."

If you need a diver, you can contact the partnership through Facebook, or send an email to needadiveradventures@gmail.com.

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