- Associated Press - Saturday, March 19, 2016

CLARKSON VALLEY, Mo. (AP) - Bernie and Carla Squitieri have two very valuable rings back, against almost incomprehensible odds.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1PevqbJ ) reports that Carla Squitieri had taken off the rings March 13 at their home in the St. Louis suburb of Clarkson Valley, and put them on a paper towel to dry. When her husband was cleaning later that night, he tossed the paper towel in the trash.

She panicked when she couldn’t find the rings, which are worth nearly $500,000. They also had tremendous sentimental value - one had a 12.5-carat diamond, a 15th wedding anniversary present from her husband, and the other was an infinity band encrusted with seven carats of diamonds.

“I was like a lunatic, ripping the house up,” Carla Squitieri said.

He froze when realizing what had happened. “We both ran out to the trash, only to realize (the garbage truck) had come and gone,” he said.

By the time they reached Meridian Waste Service, the haulers had already collected from hundreds of other homes. She was distraught, thinking the rings she planned to pass down to her daughters were lost forever.

He got the phone, willing to dig through mounds of trash if that’s what it took.

Meridian directed the couple to a trash transfer station in O’Fallon. There, wearing hazmat suits, they began digging through an estimated eight or nine tons of trash.

Nine out of 10 customers who call about lost items never find them, said Joe Evans, Meridian’s operations manager, who heard about the missing rings and decided to head over with three guys to help tear into one trash bag after another.

About 20 minutes into the search, Evans recognized the Squitieris’ address on a piece of mail inside on bag. He took it to a clear space and dumped it. There, amid other trash, he saw the sparkle of a diamond partly hidden by the paper towel.

“All it comes down to is luck,” said Evans, to whom the couple gave a $500 reward.

___

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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