Bay Area Proud

Public Works Crew Rescues Wedding Ring Flushed Down Toilet Months Earlier

'I figured it was gone. It was in the sewer pipes. It was long, long gone.'

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Jenna Madrid says the timing was perfect. As in, perfectly awful.

It was early September and Madrid was in the bathroom of her Livermore home when her wedding ring slipped out of her hand and into the toilet — just as it was flushing. All she could do was watch as the ring swirled out of sight.

"I froze," Madrid said.

Madrid and her husband did what they could to try and retrieve it. They even called in a plumber but were told it was a lost cause.

"It was in the sewer pipes. It was long, long gone," Madrid said.

Madrid was resigned to never seeing her ring again until recently when she met a friend for lunch.

"I'm telling her what happened and she says, 'Well, have you called the Water Reclamation Plant?'" Madrid said. Her friend was talking about Livermore's wastewater treatment facility — the end of the line for all 300 miles of sewers in the city. Perhaps, the friend suggested, the ring made it all the way there.

"I never thought of doing that," Madrid said.

So, more than two months after watching her ring disappear, she gave Livermore's Public Works department a ring.

Madrid's timing, this time, could not have been better.

Public Works Supervisor Mike Wells told Madrid a crew just happened to have been down the street from her home the day before and the debris they cleared from the sewer just happened to be sitting in a pile at the plant awaiting disposal.

"Sitting right here," Jon Browning, Wastewater Collection System Coordinator said, pointing to a pile of gravel, mud, and whatever else his team had sucked up from the sewer the day before Madrid's call.

Browning was more than happy to look through the pile for Madrid's ring but didn't think the chances of finding anything were very good.

"Really slim. Really, really slim," Browning said.

Yet, after raking through the pile, then using a metal detector, there the ring was.

"He called me and said, 'I found it,'" Madrid said. "And I about died."

"It had to be a miracle. She called the day after us cleaning pipes there. This just does not happen," Browning said.

The staff at the water treatment plan says they have found lost things before but never like this, never after so long.

Madrid could not be more thrilled and more grateful.

"They didn’t have to do any of that. I think they are amazing. They deserve a gold medal," she said.

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