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Treasure hunters in Tacoma help newlyweds uncover ring that fell into Puget Sound

Chris and Minnette Sills stand on the beach under Katie Downs restaurant on Tacoma's waterfront Thursday. After their wedding, she accidentally dropped her new ring (held in the foreground in this photo) from the restaurant's deck. It was later found with the help of experts using metal detectors.
Chris and Minnette Sills stand on the beach under Katie Downs restaurant on Tacoma's waterfront Thursday. After their wedding, she accidentally dropped her new ring (held in the foreground in this photo) from the restaurant's deck. It was later found with the help of experts using metal detectors. Staff photographer

It was a bride’s nightmare.

Minnette Sills showed her husband of just a few hours — who was new to wearing a wedding band — how easy it was to wiggle a ring off a finger.

The couple were soaking in the waterfront view on the deck at Katie Downs Waterfront Tavern after their intimate wedding ceremony July 25 at Jack Hyde Park on Ruston Way in Tacoma.

“She did such an excellent job of showing me,” Chris Sills said of his wife, “that in almost the same motion her ring slipped out of her hand.”

The newlyweds heard one clink on the deck below.

Then, silence.

“It looked like she was going to faint,” said Chris, 33. “She was frozen with fear. I must have moved half the furniture on their deck.”

It didn’t take long for the couple to realize the ring had fallen into the water.

Minnette, 35, couldn’t believe it.

“I was really sad,” she said. “It’s the symbol of our marriage.”

The couple left before getting the food they ordered, poised never to come back to the tavern where they believed the ring was lost forever.

They hardly expected the outcome that followed six days later.

“To be honest, I thought there was no way we were going to find the ring,” Minnette said.

The couple returned to the beach below Katie Downs the next morning, but low tide wasn’t low enough for a thorough search.

Regardless, they waded in water up to their waists, searched for several hours and went home empty-handed.

“We kind of gave up at that point,” Chris said.

Then they learned that the lowest tides of the summer were a few days away.

Hiring a diver crossed Chris’ mind, but that wasn’t feasible given the high price and the money spent on the wedding and the ring itself.

Further research led the couple to the Puget Sound Treasure Hunters Club. Members specialize in finding items with metal detectors for free, donations optional.

A quick email to the club put Chris in touch with Brian Feierday. The Auburn resident was responsive and determined to help, Chris said.

Feierday told Chris that July 30 and July 31, nearly a week after the ring fell into the water, were the lowest of low tides.

The first day’s search turned up nothing, but Feierday told Chris not to worry.

“He said he would return with a real hunter,” Chris said.

Enter Tom Evenson, who hunts for stuff from dawn to dusk five or six days a week, Feierday later told The News Tribune.

Feierday was confident Evenson was the guy to find Minnette’s ring.

Before Chris arrived midday to help with the second day of searching, Evenson found what he thought was the ring — buried under about 4 inches of sand.

Chris gave him a detailed description — nine princess-cut stones with a 14-karat gold band — and Evenson handed over the ring.

“I’m really sorry this is your ring,” Everson told Chris. “It would’ve looked really good in my collection.”

Chris gave the men a $200 donation for the successful search.

“That was all the money we had to spare,” he said. “If I had more, I would’ve given it to them.”

Minnette’s ring wasn’t the only valuable item the hunters found last week, Feierday said. They turned up two cellphones, too.

He told The News Tribune that treasure hunters seldom get to return valuable items they find. Club members regularly find items, including lots of rings, but many times are unable to identify the owners.

Feierday said that in his decades of hunting with metal detectors, he’s found and returned valuable items only two other times.

“One of the things we strive to do is to be of community service,” he said. “Most people don’t know that there are people to contact for something like this.”

Minnette was dumbfounded that she was one of the treasure-hunter success stories. She jumped up and yelled with excitement when she heard the good news.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “They are so good.”

Her husband knows who to call now, if he or anyone he knows is in similar straits.

“Brian wasn’t going to give up,” Chris Sills said, adding that the treasure hunter planned to deploy his entire club if the initial search failed.

“They are 110 percent willing to help out just about anyone.”

MORE INFORMATION

Visit bit.ly/1KRp0QJ for more information about the Puget Sound Treasure Hunters Club.

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