A Massachusetts woman, who accidentally threw away three valuable diamond keepsakes, is breathing a giant sigh of relief after donning protective gear and rooting out her family heirlooms at the bottom of a 5-ton mound of smelly trash.
How the jewelry ended up in the trash is an all-too-familiar scenario. Cecilia Callahan of Norwell, Mass., had been cleaning her best jewelry in preparation for a special dinner with her husband, Joe, to celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary.
She placed her 3.1-carat diamond engagement ring, 1.75-carat diamond pendant and her grandma's diamond ring — a treasure she's worn for more than 40 years — in an ultrasonic cleaner. When the pieces were glistening, she pulled them from the bath, wrapped them in paper towels and set them on the counter to dry.
The next morning, she hurried to clean off the kitchen counter before the trash collector arrived. She tossed the last few items — including the wadded-up, bling-laden paper towels — and ran the bag out to the curb.
Two hours later, she realized what she had done.
"I was having a heart attack," Callahan told Boston's NBC affiliate, WHDH-TV.
With the help of a neighbor, she and her husband contacted Waste Management and learned that the truck had yet to dump its load, so the truck was diverted to the nearby Braintree transfer station where 5 tons of refuse was spread across the floor of one of its bays.
Aided by Waste Management staffers and outfitted in protective gear, the husband-and-wife team waded for two hours through a mountain of garbage bags.
"Yeah, we were really in the trash," Callahan joked.
But then Callahan honed in on a familiar trash bag at the bottom of the pile.
"I pulled it out and it was mine," she said. "I was so excited."
Sanitation worker Joe McCarthy was surprised by the Callahans' success.
"It was like finding the Willy Wonka (Golden) Ticket," he told WHDH-TV. "You'll never find what she found."
Boston's ABC affiliate, WCVB-TV, reported that the Callahans were so impressed by the Waste Management team that they returned to the transfer station a few days later with pizza and calzones for the staff.
"They were so kind," said Cecilia Callahan. "They went above and beyond the call of duty. In this day and age you don't find so many nice people."
Credits: Video screen captures via WHDH.com.