Mulch-Pile Class Ring Lost and Found! – Elm Grove, WI

  • from Menomonee Falls (Wisconsin, United States)

It took the cooperation of several individuals to successfully recover Claudia Roedl’s cherished Arizona State University 2013 Class Ring. The 10 Karat gold ring went missing late Saturday afternoon, October 15th.

Claudia, an Elm Grove, Wisconsin resident and volunteer firefighter, was doing some fall clean up around her house. Three large bags of leaves and grass clippings bore evidence of a hard day’s work. It was towards the end of the day. The local recycle station would soon be closing. But Claudia made the short trip just in time and remembered shaking out the contents of the large bags into the heap of vegetative debris. It was on her way home that Claudia was horrified to discover her treasured ring missing!

Her mind went into immediate rewind mode remembering moments during the day when she got on and off her lawn tractor, filling recycle bags, raking and working to prepare for the coming winter. Most of all, Claudia pictured the formidable mound of foliage at the recycle station. Deep down, she fought hard against the idea that her ring, tangible evidence of four hard-earned education degrees, was lost forever.

I received a text message from Claudia that same evening. She had started to investigate renting a metal detector when she stumbled across The Ring Finder’s directory of metal-detecting specialists. Would I help? And where to start?

It was not clear whether the ring was lost at Claudia’s home or at the recycle station. Time was not so much an issue if the ring was somewhere in her yard, but if it was buried in the recycle mound, the clock was ticking… and fast!

A succession of phone calls through the night with some people in high places, made it possible for an attendant to open the gates early the next day, on a Sunday. Firefighters certainly do look out for each other!

Any hope that the pile of debris had been left undisturbed from the previous afternoon was shattered when we saw that the mound had been consolidated by a well-meaning worker using a 154-horsepower Hyundai loader with its 3-cubic yard bucket. Finding a postage-stamp-sized piece of metal in amongst such a massive heap of vegetative material was akin to finding a needle in a proverbial haystack. And was the ring even there?

The task was made significantly easier when a site superintendent showed up with what can only be described as every metal-detectorist’s dream tool—the Hyundai loader! Working together we used a divide-and-conquer approach, sifting through one bucket at a time. It was nearly an hour later and barely half way into the mound when I picked up a solid signal in my headphones. The data on my controller was likewise promising. But when I began to investigate, the signal vanished. Try as I might, I could not find it again.

Similar situations occur, I’ve learned over the years, when searching for targets under water. Gold, being a heavy, dense, metal, tends to dive when the area around it is disturbed. The porous vegetation, once moved, would allow a ring like Claudia’s to drop into the crevices beneath. I continued with this premise, carefully removing layer after layer of vegetation in hopes of ‘catching up’ with the target. Eventually the signal appeared again. And probing ever so delicately into the foliage, Claudia’s beloved class ring flashed its presence!

Claudia’s smile tells the rest of the story. But I would be amiss if I did not recognize the team of individuals whose cooperation and care for a fellow firefighter, made it possible. Sometimes it takes a team! As for me, I gotta get me one of those Hyundai loaders!

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