A moonlighting Alabama police officer toiled through the night and into the early morning hours — using his plumbing and social media skills — to reunite a diamond engagement ring with its distraught owner.
Leslie Shannon was washing her hands at Al's Deli and Grill in Birmingham when her fun ladies' night out turned into a house of horrors. The 32-year-old newlywed told AL.com that she usually places her bridal jewelry in her mouth when she uses the sink so she won't forget to put the set back on. But this time the rings fell out of her mouth and spun right down the drain.
"It's a sickening feeling," Shannon said. "I immediately started ripping apart the sink and the pipes. If you can only imagine losing your wedding ring — you can do anything with the adrenalin going through your body."
Before long, the women’s bathroom and the adjoining men’s bathroom were filled with a frenzy of friends and restaurant patrons looking for ways to extricate the precious keepsake from the plumbing system.
They reluctantly gave up after 2½ hours, with Shannon accepting the fate of her cherished ring. It was most likely lost to the Jefferson County sewer system.
What the devastated Shannon didn’t know was that Birmingham police officer Travis Hendrix, who moonlights at Al's, had witnessed the wild bathroom activity and wasn't going to give up without a fight.
"I didn't want it to end there for her,'' Hendrix told the New York Daily News. "I knew deep down she is a very kindhearted, very sweet person. It's just something I had to do."
Hendrix, the restaurant’s manager and another friend pooled their talents, working through the night and into the early morning hours to fish the ring from the bathroom pipes. It was a small miracle, Hendrix told Al.com, when the trio heard the ring jingling somewhere deep down in the pipes.
After the ring was saved, there was one more big task at hand. Hendrix didn’t know Shannon’s full name or how to contact her.
Hendrix remembered that during the restroom commotion the woman’s friends had called her “Leslie.” He also knew that her group paid its tab that night with a credit card.
The officer located a credit card receipt of the woman he believed to be Shannon’s friend, and then trolled various social media to get more info.
"I went through LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram,'' Hendrix said. "I was looking up all types of crazy things."
"I made 20 to 30 calls from 4 a.m. until 5:30 a.m.,'' Hendrix said. "I ended up finding the friend she was with on Instagram."
A few hours later, he was able to get a message to Shannon via her Instagram-connected friend.
When Shannon heard that her ring had been found she immediately started crying. "It was tears of joy,” she said. “I couldn't believe it."
“In the past year when it seems all you hear and see on TV are negative things about police officers,'' Shannon's husband, Ken, wrote to AL.com, "I had a Birmingham police officer go above and beyond his call of duty."
"I'm just glad she's OK now,'' Hendrix said. "I knew how much it meant to her. If it was me, I'd want her to do the same thing. I was just doing my job."
Images: Courtesy of Leslie Shannon, Facebook, Birmingham Police Department