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Debbie Cassidy was only one year out of high school when she lost her class ring while swimming in scenic Peconic Bay on Eastern Long Island. The year was 1981.
“We were at a party and we were in the water and it slipped off my finger and I was heartbroken,” Cassidy told ABC News. “We never found it. I thought I’d never see it again. I always dreamed I would."
Cassidy's dream came true on Saturday thanks to the metal-detecting prowess of Rich Miliauskas, who found the ring under three feet of water and 10 inches of sand. Miliauskas scooped up the ring about three houses down the beach from where it was lost 36 years ago. Despite being submerged for more than three decades, the ring — which is engraved with Cassidy's name and features a blue faceted stone — was still in very good condition.
Cassidy, whose maiden name is Deborah E. Wells, played a key role in the return of her ring. The 54-year-old Mattituck resident had told her friend Jimmy Parsons, another metal-detector hobbyist and friend of Miliauskas, that she was heartbroken over the loss of her class ring. She told him about the beach party she attended in Laurel, how she went swimming with her friends and how distressed she was when the loose-fitting ring slipped off her finger and disappeared into the surf. Cassidy and her friends made desperate attempts to find the ring, but came up empty.
Parsons shared Cassidy's heart-tugging saga with a number of his metal-detecting friends and asked them to keep and eye out for the ring.
On Friday, Miliauskas got out of work early and noticed that low tide on the Peconic Bay was the perfect opportunity to break out his equipment and search for Cassidy's ring. Later that evening, Miliauskas called his buddy to report his success.
“Her name is fully inscribed in it: Deborah E. Wells, so there’s no question,” Parsons told ABC News. “I met up with him later Saturday afternoon so I could look at it and confirm it. He had cleaned it up so it looked pretty, much like the day she got it. It was pretty perfect, in pretty good shape for being in the water for 36 years.”
On Saturday, the 1980 Mattituck High School graduate was reunited with her class ring on the beach where she lost it 36 years ago. She slipped the class ring on her finger and it fit perfectly. The ecstatic Cassidy screamed out in delight and then gave her hero a big hug.
“I was beyond happy,” Cassidy told southoldlocal.com. “You have no idea. My husband and I thought it would be all beat up, but it’s not. It looks perfect!”
Cassidy believes in good karma — the concept that one reaps what one sows. Previously, she had purchased a jewelry collection on eBay and was surprised that one of the items was a high school ring. Cassidy took the initiative to call the seller and track down the family of the original owner, who had since passed away. The owner's sister had none of her brother's possessions, so Cassidy gave the ring back to the family.
Her reward: A new friend in Miliauskas and a cherished class ring back on her finger.
Credits: Photos by Debbie Cassidy. Map by Googlemaps.