Workers from the city of Bothell were able to retrieve a mom’s diamond wedding ring from sewage after it was flushed down the toilet about a month ago. The 4-year-old son has “learned a lesson.”

Share story

When 4-year-old Landon Cornish flushed his mom’s diamond ring down the toilet last month, his parents didn’t figure to ever get it back.

Anna Cornish was in shock. Her husband, Ryan Cornish, was upset. The plumber they called that night told them the ring — part of a wedding set — was lost forever.

But on Wednesday, Ryan on a hunch told the story to some Bothell city workers near his house and asked if there was any chance the ring might turn up.

There was.

A day later, and about a mile from the Cornish home, workers found it among sewage and debris.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Ted Stonebridge, the water/sewer maintenance supervisor for the city of Bothell. “It’s kind of a needle-in-the-haystack-type story, and you don’t come across that type of stuff.”

Once given the go-ahead, Jose Cervantes, Ethan Merritt and Mike Varnier, who work on Stonebridge’s team, put a utility camera in the sewer pipe. Then they flushed out and sucked up debris into a truck.

They sifted through what Stonebridge described as paper, rock and human waste until someone spotted a slight shimmer.

They called Ryan, 38, with the good news on Thursday.

“There were tears of joy, elation,” he said. “I didn’t want my wife to know yet, or my mother-in-law, so I instantly took it to the jeweler to get it cleaned up.”

Ryan had been thinking of buying a replacement ring but was reluctant. He had saved for that ring for 2 ½ years — a previous one was stolen — and the couple planned to hand it down to their daughter, who’s now 3 years old.

Eric Freund, Ryan’s jeweler at Robbins Brothers in Bellevue, who sold him the original set, said he was doing the best he could to help Ryan out, but it was tricky because parts of the set can’t be sold separately.

But when Ryan came in to get the lost-and-found ring cleaned, Freund happened to stroll in on his day off. They hugged when Ryan shared the good news.

“There was no way it was coming back, so when he told me that, I was literally in shock,” he said.

Freund said the ring was polished, soaked, steamed and plated. And then cleaned again. And again.

When Ryan came home, he woke Landon up from a nap, showed him the ring and told him to give it to his mom. Landon presented it with a big, wide-eyed, “I’m sorry.”

It’s a moment that Anna could only describe as touching.

“I was shocked and speechless, and I looked over at my husband and I was like, ‘Did you get a new one?’ and he said, ‘No, they found it,’ ” said Anna, 34. “I just felt speechless, tears started coming down my eyes, tears started coming down my mom’s eyes.”

Ryan and Anna said they’re forever grateful to the Bothell public-works crew, who were under no obligation to fulfill what seemed like a far-fetched request. Now, the couple say they can’t wait to share the story at Landon’s wedding in the far future.

And after a serious talking to, Ryan said, Landon now understands what he did was a huge no-no.

“He learned a lesson,” Ryan said. “Nothing goes down the toilet except you know what.”