Gail Wilkerson had good intentions when she took a friend's advice and removed her cherished diamond rings at a water park recently so she wouldn't lose them. She wrapped them in tissues and placed them safely in her purse. Unfortunately, the Golden, Colo., resident forgot about the rings, and when she got home she unloaded into the toilet a purse full of used tissues and flushed them.
Wilkerson didn't realize her terrible mistake until much later that night when she woke up in a panic. "I started screaming, 'Oh, my gosh! I flushed my rings down the toilet,'" she told NBC-TV affiliate KUSA in Denver.
The rings had an appraised valued of $10,000, but the sentimental value of the pair were priceless. She received one of the rings from her father on her 18th birthday, the same year he died. The other ring was assembled from a collection of diamonds her mother once wore. Wilkerson said that the rings were such an important part of her life that she didn't feel like a whole person without them.
When a commercial plumbing service couldn't find the rings after checking the lines in her house, Wilkerson's friends told her to contact the municipal North Table Mountain Water and Sanitation Department.
Even though sanitation crew members Jason Hart and Kevin Osborne estimated their chances of finding the rings as "slim to none," they still took on the challenge. They set a trap and used their jet truck to shoot a powerful spray of water down the sewer line. The result was nothing short of miraculous.
"So I was down in the manhole, kind of digging through, sifting through the debris and then I happened to find the rings," Hart told a KUSA reporter. "I was shocked. I was really shocked. I said, 'Oh my gosh, there it really is.' It was like finding a needle in a haystack."
Wilkerson was ecstatic and especially appreciative of the extraordinary effort put forth by Hart, Osbourne and their crew. "They could have given up," Wilkerson said, "and they didn't have to go through all the extra lengths."