Found: Union Sanitary District Recovers Priceless Family Ring

Collection service workers in California come to the rescue after a Bay Area toddler flushes a family heirloom down the toilet
Found: Union Sanitary District Recovers Priceless Family Ring
Johnny Powell (left) and Victor Vasut.

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The Union Sanitary District based in Union City, Calif., takes pride in providing its customers value for their dollar.

That certainly was the case last month when a USD crew recovered a San Francisco Bay Area family’s diamond and sapphire ring that was flushed down the toilet by their 3-year-old son.

Against all odds, the family heirloom was found by USD collection services workers on their fifth recovery attempt six weeks after it was lost and a third of a mile from Munazzar and Mehvish Tapal’s home in Union City.

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The Tapals originally hired a plumber who charged the family $400 but was unable to locate the ring inside the drain.

Munazzar told reporters the ring, which was purchased in London by his great-grandfather, had been in the family for 60 years. After the plumber was unable to retrieve the priceless heirloom, he decided to reach out to USD hoping for a miracle.

“It’s rare to find something like this; it’s like a needle in a haystack,” says wastewater collection supervisor Shawn Nesgis.

On three separate days, USD crews stopped in the Tapal’s neighborhood after completing their regular work.

Just as they were about to call off their search, knowing that recovery of the ring would be impossible once it reached a larger line, USD collection services workers Johnny Powell and Victor Vesut discovered the sparkling ring in a pile of debris after once again flushing the sewer line.

“We get these types of calls periodically but very seldom do we find anything,” Nesgis told the San Jose Mercury News. “In fact, we’ve only had two recoveries like this in the past 20 years that I’ve been here.”

And as far as providing “value for their dollar,” USD didn’t charge the Tapals for the collection service, saying they were simply doing their job for a customer.

Munazzar and Mehvish said they plan to give the ring to their son when he is older.


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