SALMON ARM - Dani Jacobsen couldn’t be happier to get her engagement ring and diamond necklace back — even if they spent the last three years buried in a septic tank.
It all started in 2013 when Dani’s two-and-a-half-year-old son Cohen was in a ‘flushing stage.’ A few days earlier, he'd sent an apple down the toilet. Unfortunately, his next target was something much more valuable. She had taken off her wedding band, engagement ring, earrings and necklace before a bath, and left them beside the toilet.
Dani says after the bath she went to get them and they weren't there.
“We scoured the house then asked our son Cohen if he knew where they were," she says. "He said he had flushed them down the toilet.”
Determined to retrieve the jewellery, Dani’s husband David set to work taking out the toilet. When that failed to turn up the wad of jewellery, he got a plumber’s snake, hoping to snag the items that way.
“Then he went under the house and spent hours taking apart the pipes directly under the the toilet, just scouring the pipes, but he couldn’t see it,” Dani says.
Next, David dug up the pipes outside the house, in sub-zero November weather, Dani recalls. But there was still no sign of the jewellery.
“At that point he said we can’t stop here, so we called Jake at Reliable Septic,” she says.
Jacob Starnyski came out to pump the septic tank and really got into the search. He put a screen on the hose so he could slowly sift through the septage. David, meanwhile, suited up in boots, waders and garbage bags and actually went inside the tank.
“He was reaching and digging around — it was so gross,” Dani recalls. “They were out there for a good four hours. The smell, I can’t believe he stayed in there that long.”
Despite the efforts, the jewellery did not turn up. Dani and David gave up hope.
Fast forward three years to Feb. 22, 2015. Having moved to Nanaimo and in the process of selling their old house, the Jacobsens hired Starnyski to pump out the septic tank.
“I knew in the back of my mind there was a chance the jewellery could be in there still,” Starnyski says.
After about an hour of pumping and rinsing, he noticed something shiny: the diamond necklace and Dani’s engagement ring tangled up together. He used a tape measure to reach down and hook the necklace.
“I knew right away it was something. It was pretty cool and exciting to find,” he says.
He rinsed off the items, cleaned them with some sanitation products he had in his truck and called Dani’s mom who couldn’t believe the news.
“Dani ended up calling me and she was just astounded and thanking me so much,” Starnyski says. “It makes for a good night’s sleep. It was not my typical work day — more like a treasure hunt.”
Dani’s mom is holding onto the items — which Starnyski thoughtfully polished up and put in a jewellery box —until she can come and get them.
She’s overjoyed to get the items back, and grateful to Starnyski for keeping up the search after all these years.
“We just never thought someone would take the time again to try and look for it. Jake being the awesome guy he is kept that in the back of his head,” Dani says.
She’s especially happy to get the necklace back — a gift from her husband after she miscarried. The pendant symbolized their journey of life, and she was heartbroken to have lost it.
She’s looking forward to putting the ring and necklace back on, and plans to be extra careful with them as Cohen’s little brother is now also in a flushing phase.
“I think Jake gave it a scrub, but I’ll probably give it a bit of a rinse before I start wearing it again,” Dani says.
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