If it wasn't for a trash company worker going the extra mile, the $400,000 wedding ring that Missouri man Bernie Squitieri gave his wife 25 years ago would now be in a radioactive waste site instead of on her finger. Squitieri tells ABC News that he accidentally tossed the 12.5-carat ring in the trash after it was left in paper towels on the kitchen counter Sunday night. When his wife, Carla, noticed it was missing on Monday, they realized it had been thrown out—and they were told it was on its way to a landfill site that also handles radioactive waste. They convinced Meridian Waste Services to divert the truck to another site, where they faced the daunting task of combing through 10 tons of garbage for the ring.
"My first thought was we're never going to find it. It was like finding a needle in a haystack basically," Joe Evans, the operations manager who drove to the site to help the Squitieris search, tells KMOV. It's very rare for that kind of item to be recovered from the trash, Evans says—but he managed to find the ring within 25 minutes and return it to an extremely relieved couple. "He could've put the ring in his pocket and nobody would've ever noticed," says Bernie Squitieri, who thinks Evans' honesty is as valuable as the ring. "It gave my wife a really good feeling and it's nice to know that there's still good people out there." (This New Jersey man managed to find his lost wedding ring at the bottom of the ocean.)