Sara-Kate called me on Monday, Apr 16th, saying she had lost her engagement ring and asked if I could help try and find it. No problem I thought, then Sara proceeded to fill in the details. The first issue was that she had been driving to one of three places when she took her ring off and put it in her lap while she applied lotion to her hands. She was sure her ring fell off her lap and out of the truck when she made one of her stops on the way to the beach. The problem was she wasn’t sure which part of her trips she applied the lotion. She went on to say that she went from her house to her friend’s house, both in Wilmington, NC, from there to a gas station on Carolina Beach, NC, and then finally to the Freeman Park beach at the north end of Carolina Beach, NC . This search just got a little more complicated. She told me she checked, rechecked and checked again for her ring inside the truck with no luck. She had talked to her friend and asked if she would look in her driveway, which had negative results. She also called the gas station, who didn’t return her call. So, this pretty much left the loss at the beach, or somebody picked it up in the parking lot at the gas station. The second issue was the beach is located in Freeman Park, and North Carolina has rules about metal detecting in Parks. The rules aren’t specific to National, State or City Parks; the guidelines are just “Park Rules,” which states “metal detectors are not allowed in any park area except to locate lost personal property when authorized by a Special Activity Permit.” I know that beach is heavily detected, in fact, I’ve detected there myself, but this time I wasn’t willing to get arrested. I called the park and was told that it wouldn’t be a problem to detect there, so that was good. The third issue was this particular beach can be driven on, with a four-wheel vehicle. When Sara-Kate lost her ring, it was at night and very dark on the beach so she wasn’t positive where she parked and got out to walk to their campsite. Luckily, it was high tide when she lost it, so I didn’t have to worry about it being in the ocean. I also had to consider that it might have been run over and pushed deeper into the soft sand, so I had to dig the deep targets as well.
With the park permission out of the way, the only thing left to do was search the beach. We tentatively made plans to meet around 7 p.m. but she’s a mother of two children, ages 5 and 1, and children don’t follow schedules. So, we decided to meet at 7 a.m. the next morning, Tuesday, at a local McDonalds and go from there.
It’s an hour and a half drive from home to Carolina Beach, so my morning started really early. We met around 7:30 a.m., drove to the beach, I jumped in her truck, and we drove out to their camping spot. I always take two machines, usually my PI (primary) and AT Pro (backup), glad I did this time. Sara-Kate put me on the spot, as she remembered it, and I started my search. Within the first three steps, I had collected a dozen tent stakes, which was wasting too much time digging them out. I went back to her truck and grabbed the AT Pro and started over. After searching where she thought she parked, I moved probably 100 yards further south and worked a back and forth grid search to my original starting point. The area I was searching is all camping spots, and the amount of trash people leave in the sand is amazing, and this is with trash cans every 15-20 feet. Anyway, after searching for almost 4 hours and cleaning the beach of trash, there was no ring. I was completely confident I had hit it hard and hadn’t missed the ring. Bless her heart, Sara-Kate was trying so hard not to show her disappointment, but I could see it in her face and hear it in her voice. When I can’t find something for somebody, I truly feel their pain. I knew she had pretty much given up hope of finding it because she was talking about filing an insurance claim on it.
As we’re driving off the beach, I don’t remember which one of us brought it up, but we decided to head to her friend’s house and give it a try. Following her in my car, we made the 20-25 minute drive and pulled into the driveway. My first impression was if her ring hadn’t been picked up in the parking lot of the gas station, it had to be here in the grass. Sara-Kate and her friend were trying to remember where the cars were parked in the driveway at the time of the loss. Meanwhile, I started doing a grid search about 6-7 feet left of the driveway working my way back towards the driveway. On the third pass, while I’m checking out a pretty good shallow target, I glanced over to my left, and there was her ring. Just sitting down in the grass, where it had been for the last two days. I picked it up and cupped in my hand, walking towards where Sara-Kate was standing talking to her friend’s husband. I was acting like I finished with trying to find her ring and looking disappointed. I said to her, “Well young lady, I don’t know what to tell you.” She responded, “You can tell me you found my ring,” as she’s jumping up and down like she’s excited. My response was, “OK” as I held up her ring holding it between my finger and thumb. It caught her totally off guard as she stared at her ring not fully grasping what I had said, then Bam, she stepped back, bent over at the waist, covered her face with her hands and said (loudly): “Oh, S#&T”!!!! Then the tears started flowing. The moment was priceless and is exactly why I love being a ring finder. It took Sara-Kate a few minutes for the shock and excitement to wear off, and the reality of having her ring back to set in. When it did, we jumped in our cars and drove to her house to give her fiancé, Danny the good news. Sara-Kate was so excited to tell Danny, she flew out of the truck and into the house, yelling over her shoulder to me “come on in.” When I got in the house, I got to meet the whole family. Her fiancé, Danny, their 5 year old son Wyatt James, who wanted me to go out in the back yard to play, and their precious little daughter, Lilly. Lilly actually let me hold her and gave me big grins. I’m pretty sure the whole family was feeling the excitement of Sara-Kate having her ring back. Danny was definitely happy and couldn’t believe we found it. He confided in me that he hated the thought of having ten more payments on the ring, but Sara-Kate didn’t have it. Well, now she does Danny!!! Nothing but smiles and hugs when I left. It doesn’t get too much better than this.
Sara-Kate and Danny – Thank you for trusting me to help find your treasure. Best of Luck to you two, you’re an awesome couple with a beautiful family.