Ted Stonebridge

City of Bothell employees return ring found in sewer to family

Sewers are usually out of sight and out of mind, but after a wedding ring was flushed down toilet, it was all one local family could think about.

Sewers are usually out of sight and out of mind, but after a wedding ring was flushed down toilet, it was all one local family could think about.

Around early June, Ryan and Anne Cornish’s four-year-old son flushed Anne’s wedding ring down a toilet in their south Bothell home.

The couple spent some $800 trying to recover it until they finally approached city maintenance workers Jose Cervantes, Ethan Merritt and Mike Varnier on June 15 as they were working on a sewer pipe near the couple’s home and asked for their help.

“Mike and I were pretty excited for the opportunity to find this ring,” Cervantes said.

The crew thought the ring may have been wedged in a section of pipe downhill from the Cornish’s house where the pipe curved up again, creating a debris catch.

So they hooked up a truck with a large tank and pumped the contents of the pipe into a large tank and drove it down to a station to sift through it.

The crew said sifting through sewer debris is fairly common, especially around new developments, so they can let the homeowners or developers know if there’s rubble or other items coming into the pipes which could harm the sewer filters and system.

Public Works Superintendent Nik Stroup said the crew wasn’t too optimistic about their chances.

“The probability of finding something like this is slim to none,” he said.

But only 45 minutes after they began sifting, the crew spotted the ring in the sludge.

The next day the freshly cleaned and boxed ring was returned to Ryan Cornish by the entire Water and Sewer Operations team so his son could present to his wife.

In an email to the city, Anne Cornish expressed her gratitude.

“Tears, joy, elation and hugs flooded our home,” Anna said in an email to the City this morning. “You and your crew are proof that amidst the darkness of this week, our world is still full of kind and good people who genuinely care for others. I am proud to be a resident in the City of Bothell knowing our city employees prioritize the well-being of the community first and foremost in their jobs.”

Supervisor Ted Stonebridge said returning the ring was a unique experience.

“It was just a look of awe, he looked at it for a couple seconds,” he said. “It’s just a great ending with some little twists along the way.”

Though no one on the crew had a similar experience, Stroup said it’s all in a days work.

“I think as public servants… we do a lot of work, and it’s very important work, but usually its behind the scenes,” he said. “I’m just really proud of our guys. They gave it a shot and it turned out great.”

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