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Couple's keepsake ring recovered from sewer pipes

By Shayla Patrick, NBC News | Posted - Oct 14th, 2013 @ 9:55am

SPRINGFIELD, Mo — A Springfield, Mo., couple, married for nearly 70 years, is reunited with a keepsake after it was flushed down the toilet.

Charles Robertson thought a ring he gave his wife many years ago was gone for good when it slipped off her finger and into the toilet bowl.

The unique ring was custom-made from pieces of gold leftover from spare dental moldings of this retired dentist.

After the ring was flushed, Robertson never truly expected to see the gold band again. However, he took his daughter's advice and called the city to see if it might be able to help.

To his surprise, about three weeks later he got some great news.

"Gave him his rings back," said Jim Noblitt, waster technician with the city of Springfield. "He was very thankful and everything. A few days later he brought his wife back in and I got to shake her hand and see the smile while she was wearing that ring. It made it all worthwhile."

Crews used an 8-inch remote control camera. It connects to an intricate software system that gave workers the ability to see anything in the pipes.

They searched for hours then flushed the pipe where they thought the ring was. Buckets were used to sift through debris to find the ring.

City crews said normally items flushed travel so quickly through pipes that finding them among the sewage becomes nearly impossible. In this case, slight congestion in one of the lines delayed the ring from traveling. It was located about 800 feet from the homeowner.

The rare find came as an unexpected blessing for Robertson and his wife.

"I can't sing their praises enough because they went above and beyond the call of duty when they found this," said Robertson.

The city receives about three or four of these types of calls each year but rarely gets the time and approval to investigate them all.

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