Workers Recover 98-year-old Woman's $8,000 Wedding Ring From Sewage Line

It was a mucky job, but the reward was great.

Alma F. Coate-Wilson, 98, accidentally flushed her $8,000, 1.6-carat diamond wedding ring down the toilet in the middle of the night two months ago.

Devastated, she wrote a letter to the city's public works department, pleading with help in recovering it. Usually the department has no time to grant such requests, but they decided to try this time.

Maintenance workers Bill Davis and Jean Wright started by sending a camera through the sewer line. It didn't work. Then they flushed the main line, blocking solids using pea gravel. Finally, they went through the solids with a garden hose and found the ring.

Four city employees returned it to Coate-Wilson this week.

"I was the happiest girl in the world," she said. "I was floored."

Coate-Wilson, a retired teacher, said she was given the ring 39 years ago by Gilbert Coate, to whom she was married for 23 years. After his death she married his fishing buddy, Lee Wilson.

"Until my death, I wanted to have it (the ring), of course," she said.