Shannon Harrigan learned an expensive lesson last month when she dropped her engagement ring down an open bathtub drain.
The Tequesta mother of two and her husband, Antony Mussell, spent several days knocking through tile and digging under the foundation of their house in a fruitless effort to find the 1.5-carat, princess-cut diamond ring, which slipped off Harrigan’s finger while she was bathing her son.
They called a plumber twice to assist in their search before conceding the ring, valued at about $6,000, probably was gone. Repair work to the bathroom tile and yard followed, costing the couple nearly $1,000.
“We manipulated all the plumbing in the house and the ring wasn’t there,” said Harrigan, 34, a Chicago native who moved to Tequesta with her family two months ago. “I was 99.99 percent sure it was gone.”
The story, however, has a happy ending.
Four days after Harrigan lost the ring — she had moved it from her ring finger to her pinkie finger earlier in the day because the humidity made it too tight to wear — she was returning from a bike ride when she noticed a Loxahatchee River District crew in the area cleaning gravity sewer lines.
She spoke with Tom Koch, an engineer inspector with the district, about the ring and if there was a chance it still could be found.
Koch then asked Ryan Robertson, a district collections system operator trainee, to keep an eye out for the ring while he was performing the cleaning, which included removing sand from the gravity main.
The next day, Robertson knocked on Harrigan’s door and asked her to describe the ring. When she did, he took it out of his pocket and handed it to her.
He had discovered the ring that morning after raking through the sand collected from the sewer main. He cleaned it and drove it out to Harrigan, who was stunned by the gesture.
“There were definitely tears,” she said. “I was overjoyed. I just couldn’t believe it. The joy that he had giving it back to me was something I’ll never forget.”
“I knew how upset my wife would be if she lost her ring,” Robertson said.
Harrigan rarely wore her ring before it slipped off, but says it now will remain firmly on her ring finger.
She considers the experience a valuable one.
“If you have something of value, insure it,” she said. “And don’t wear a ring by the drain.”