Thursday, July 11, 2024

Strangers Dig Through Trash to Help Woman Find her Dad’s Ashes

Emily Dickerson almost never takes off the ring her grandmother gave her; it’s her most treasured possession and for good reason – it contains her father’s ashes.

The 17-year-old, who is a senior at Lewis Central High School in Iowa, said her father passed away when she was seven and that wearing the ring is her way of “having him with [her].”

To her horror, however, the ring was gone when she looked at her hand earlier this month. The realization immediately set in – her father’s ashes were gone for good.

At the time, Dickerson was on a week-long trip to San Antonio with her school band and choir. After performing in several venues, the students, nearly 200 of them, spent the day at McGee Beach on July 7. Upon arriving, they were told to leave their personal belongings on the charter bus or at the hotel.

A young Dickerson with her father

The rising senior, however, forgot to take off her four rings, including a sweet 16 ring, a birthstone ring from her grandparents, a promise ring from her boyfriend, and her father’s cremation ring. By the time she realized they were still on her fingers, it was too late to return to the bus.

Dickerson admitted that at the time, she was scared they would fall into the water. She immediately came up with a backup plan, one that she would come to regret later.

During the trip, each student was given a packed lunch from Subway, so she decided to place her rings in the bag as she swam. When it was time for everyone to get back on the bus, however, she forgot about the rings, which along with the food wrapping, was thrown into the trash.

It wasn’t until the group stopped at a local restaurant for dinner a couple of hours later that she remembered about the rings. Her stomach dropped. In sheer panic, she ran off to the bathroom and called her mother.

According to her mother, Tina Koch, the teen was “bawling hysterically” during the call.

While she was devastated to lose all four rings, she was the most distraught about her father’s cremation ring, which was given to her by her paternal grandmother when she was just ten years old – a few years after he had passed away in 2013.

Koch understood how much the ring meant to her daughter and reassured her that she would do everything in her power to help her find the ring. That evening, she made a call to the Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation Department, which at the time, had just closed for the weekend. Nevertheless, she left a voice message about their predicament.

laura perez
Perez was determined to find the ring after listening to the voice mail

Laura Perez, the supervisor of the department, listened to the voice message first thing on Monday morning and could “hear the heartache about what had happened to her daughter”.

While Perez always tries her best to track down lost possessions when she receives a public call, she is especially adamant about locating sentimental heirlooms and trinkets – items that can’t be replaced. Her own grandmother had just passed away recently and she could only imagine how distraught she’d be if she was in her situation.

Still, she knew the chances were slim. By the time she listened to the voicemail, it was 8:30 a.m., and the dumpster by the beach is usually picked up and cleared by 8 a.m.

Perez immediately notified the staff that was working in the area where the students had been. To her surprise, she was told the dumpster had not been picked up yet. She immediately drove to the beach, along with two other city workers, Robert Trevino, and Jesse Martinez.

perez dumpster
Perez and her team sifted through four tons of trash to find the rings

The three of them jumped in and searched through several tons of trash for more than three hours. The 40-yard dumpster had contained three days’ worth of garbage, which had been baking under the sun over the weekend. Nevertheless, they went through everything – from half-eaten fast food to sticky soda cans.

A few hours into the search, they noticed a Subway box, then another. Before long, they found a bag that contained hundreds of them and realized they were close.

They began to open and search each individual box. However, it wasn’t until they opened the very last bag that they spotted the lost ring. Perez called Koch to tell her the food news and the latter was immediately in tears.

lost ring

During the call, Koch also mentioned her daughter’s three other rings, which she reassured her, were replaceable. However, Perez insisted on going back to find them.

In the end, it took less than thirty minutes for the team to find the three remaining rings, which were shipped back to Dickerson’s home.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.


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