Reporting Mai Martinez
CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago vacation for a family from Tennessee almost ended in heartache this week, after Jodi Eastgate’s $15,000 wedding ring ended up in their hotel’s trash compactor, along with five tons of garbage.
CBS 2′s Mai Martinez has the nearly unbelievable story of how it was found and returned to her.
Eastgate said “it feels amazing” to have her wedding ring back on her finger.
She could hardly contain her excitement, showing off the wedding ring she feared she might never see again after losing it Sunday at The Drake Hotel.
She had taken it off the night before, and in the rush of checking out Sunday morning, she forgot to put it back on.
“My husband was doing that look at your watch thing, you know, like it’s time to go,” she said. “I didn’t realize until about 15 minutes later that it wasn’t on my finger.”
She rushed back up to her room, thinking she might have knocked the ring into a Cheesecake Factory bag by the bed, but the room had already been cleaned.
“As we left for the airport, I was sick. I was sick to my stomach. I had tears on my face,” she said.
After getting to Midway International Airport, Eastgate couldn’t bring herself to leave. Her husband and daughter boarded their flight home, and she headed back to the Drake.
“I felt like if we could just find the bag,” she said.
But that bag was already in the hotel’s trash compactor, and couldn’t be searched safely until Monday.
“I thought it was worse than finding a needle in a haystack, and a lot messier,” said Drake Hotel engineering director Hank Hawerbier.
Once the compactor was disconnected, Hawerbier asked staff member David Lyons to help search for the ring. Lyons agreed, but after three hours, hope started fading.
“She had stepped away, she prayed, and she came back, and she was like ‘He’s telling me it’s over there, it’s over there,’” Lyons said. “Sure enough, we kept prying, kept prying, and we started finding pieces of everything she said, and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, we might actually find this thing.’”
Moments later, they did. It’s a moment Eastgate will never forget.
“I mean, I started jumping,” she said. “I felt my feet, they weren’t on the ground anymore; and not only me, but he was. He sort of gave an expletive, like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’” Eastgate said.
It’s also hard for Lyons to forget.
“I pulled it out, and I said, ‘I got it.’ She said, you’re not playing with me, are you?’” Lyons said. “She saw the ring. She pulled it close to her heart … actually put it on.”
Eastgate said she hasn’t taken the wedding ring off since then.