June 13, 2016
Missouri bride-to-be Linda Huffman says the 1-carat solitaire engagement ring she got on Valentine's Day from fiancé Steve Kozlowski is "the only thing I've had in my life that was perfect."
But after a swimming mishap at a local creek on Memorial Day, she was sure her perfect ring was lost forever.
Huffman had been spending a glorious day with her family and friends at Dry Fork Creek, about 100 miles southwest of St. Louis, when she attempted to climb upon a huge boulder that jutted from the shore out into water. But she lost her footing, fell back, banged her hand against the limestone and the ring went flying.
"I was for sure that it was gone," Huffman told krcgtv.com.
The newly engaged couple, with the help of their loved ones, attempted to use swim goggles and snorkel gear to find the ring, but with only 3 inches of visibility there was little hope of locating it. Then a storm broke out and the couple had to abandon the search.
Knowing how much the ring meant to his fiancée, Kozlowski called for expert assistance.
He recruited Maries County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Jasper and Sheriff Chris Heitman, both of whom are members of the Mid-Missouri Sheriffs’ Dive Team.
“It isn’t something we typically do," Heitman told stltoday.com, "but for something as important as an engagement ring, we’re there,” he said.
Jasper compared the prospects of locating the ring to "finding a needle in a haystack."
On the first day of the search, Heitman did his best to scour the bottom of the muddy creek but had to give up after depleting his air supply. Undaunted, he was back on Day 2 to try again.
Based on Huffman's more precise description of how she fell off the rock, Heitman guessed where the ring may have landed and worked a new area. Again, the search was proving unsuccessful.
"I was exhausted. I was almost out of air in my tank," Heitman told krcgtv.com.
But then he saw the ring and plucked it out of the mud.
Heitman was so excited when he came up out of the water that he looked Kozlowski straight in the eyes and joked, "Will you marry me." Then Kozlowski started screaming.
Huffman and Kozlowski, who had dated for 17 years before getting engaged, couldn't be more appreciative of the extraordinary recovery efforts.
“He’s my angel,” Huffman told stltoday.com. “It’s absolutely the most amazing thing anybody ever did for me.”
With the ring properly resized, the couple is planning an April 2017 wedding with Dry Fork Creek as the scenic backdrop. It was the site of their first date and, now, a miraculous ring recovery.
"We got a story to tell the grandkids," she said.
Credits: Screen captures via krcgtv.com.