Vail employees dig through storm drain, find guest’s wedding ring
VAIL, Colorado – If you watch your wedding ring fall through the cracks of a muddy storm drain, you’d probably assume it’s gone forever.
Bryan Jones wasn’t so quick to assume, though, when his friend Chris Cook, of Portland, Ore., lost his ring in Vail last weekend. The guys were in Vail for Jones’ bachelor party, and Cook was shaking his hands because of the cold weather when he watched his ring slide off his finger into the Vail Village storm drain.
Cook, Jones and several of their friends took the storm drain cover off and tried to fish the ring out, but the sediment and mud built up at the bottom left them hopeless.
Maybe it was the guilt that Jones felt for stealing Cook away from his wife for the weekend – the second bachelor party trip Cook would attend in just two weeks – but he was motivated to at least try to get the ring back.
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“If you could have seen this well, there was so much mud in there,” Jones said. “It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.”
When Jones returned home to San Francisco, he figured why not call the town of Vail just to see if there was any hope left. He started by calling the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, who then gave him Sean Koenig’s phone number at the town of Vail.
Koenig, a geographic information specialist in the town’s community development department, wasn’t quite sure how Jones ended up calling him, but he jumped at the chance to help.
He called Charlie Turnbull in the public works department and the two went to the storm drain in the village to take pictures of it and make sure it was the right drain. They also wanted to check out the situation and see if it was even worth digging for the ring.
Turnbull sent a crew out Wednesday morning, of three or four guys, to pump the water and dig out the dirt and sediment so they could bring it back to the town’s shop and dig through it, Koenig said.
Jones couldn’t believe the effort the town of Vail employees put into finding the ring. He thought there was a one in a million chance that anyone would even agree to look for the ring, let alone find it.
“It was a shot in the dark,” Jones said. “I thought it was just worth the phone call, and I happened to find the right person who went above and beyond.”
Cook had completely given up on finding the ring, so Jones said he never called him to tell him the town was trying to find it. His wife was giving Cook a hard time after learning about the lost ring, which was expensive, Jones said.
“I couldn’t believe it when they found it,” Jones said.
The town of Vail has been promoting good customer service among its employees, including a new internal rewards program for employees who go above and beyond.
Turnbull said he agreed to search in the drain because of the town’s focus on giving good customer service. He said this isn’t the first time town employees have gone into storm drains to pull out things like cell phones or wedding rings for guests.
“One good deed gets out and we get more guests and more people to visit Vail,” Turnbull said. “And that’s our goal – to try to get more people to come back and return to Vail and get us back to No. 1.”
Koenig said there are classic examples of town employees doing nice things for people all the time, and he was just happy to get the chance to show he’s committed to good customer service, too – the opportunities don’t often come up in his job, he said.
“I was thankful to get the opportunity to step up and prove my ability to go out of my realm to help out,” Koenig said.
Koenig said he wasn’t surprised with Turnbull’s willingness to help, either. He said Turnbull often goes out of his way for people.
Jones said he was shocked at the help he received, and extremely grateful. He hopes finding the wedding ring for his friend will help get him out of the dog house in which he wife has put him.
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