A St. Petersburg metal detecting club helped a bride avert disaster by finding the engagement ring she lost on her wedding day.
On Memorial Day, Liz Oswald and her husband were celebrating their wedding in the waters off Tarpon Springs, Florida – on the Gulf of Mexico side – surrounded by friends and family. After exchanging their vows, Oswald looked down and suddenly noticed that her cherished white gold, one-carat diamond engagement ring was gone.
“We were all hanging out in the water, and I looked at my hand and my ring was gone. It was pretty upsetting," she told FOX 13 News. Family and friends soon began to search, but were unsuccessful. “After an hour we thought, let's make the best of the day and we'll worry about it tomorrow."
Oswald contacted Suncoast Research and Recovery Club, a metal detecting club in St. Petersburg, Fla. Club members are metal detecting experts who search for lost items in sand and water. They responded within minutes, and were excited to help. Club President Tom Jones and three club volunteers boarded Oswald’s boat and began the harrowing search process in an area about the size of a football field.
“The volunteers helped us narrow it down,” Oswald said. “They threw their metal detectors into the water and walked through chest-deep [waves] as they searched.”
The critical moment came when a wedding guest sent Oswald text messages with pictures from the wedding. This helped the club members pinpoint where and when the ring fell off. In some photos, the bride was wearing the ring; in other photos, it was missing. "We ran a grid pattern," Jones said. "We marked off on the beach and tried to make sure we covered every square inch of the area."
Oswald had been doubtful she would ever see the ring again. "I was really hoping but I felt it was a slim to none chance," she admitted. "The first hour and a half was pretty grim, but within two hours they found my ring."
In waist-deep water, SRARC member Paul Hill finally struck gold when he recovered Oswald’s lost ring.
In a tearful call to her husband, Oswald exclaimed, "They found it! In like two feet of water! Oh God, I'm so happy they found it. I'm so sorry I lost it."
Oswald's husband, who was heartbroken over the loss, was thrilled to hear the good news. "They had no hesitation in helping me," Oswald said. "They never once asked for anything in return... They are kindest people you'll ever meet."
Jones noted that Oswald's ring was the 27th ring his metal detecting group has found this year. “When I took over as president, me and the board decided we should use our talents to help people. When we found it, she broke down and she cried. She was just beside herself… She broke down and hugged me.”
"I'm still in shock...I still can't believe it's back on my finger," Oswald said. "It's very emotional because it's a big day, you get married and you lose your engagement ring and you think it's gone forever and these amazing guys with metal detectors come out and find your ring."
Oswald has one word to describe the volunteers who found her ring: “Angels."
Images: Fox13 screen captures.