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Last Monday, Long Island resident Colleen Dyckman woke up with a sickening feeling in her stomach that caused her heart to race. She couldn't find her diamond engagement and wedding rings and realized that she had accidentally tossed them into the kitchen trash bin while tidying up after the family's dinner the night before.
The Dyckman's trash had just been picked up that morning and was en route to the Babylon Town dump where it would be incinerated.
Colleen and her husband, Ken, chased down the sanitation truck and told the driver that he likely had the valuable bridal jewelry in his load. The driver called his crew leader, Edward Wiggins, who ordered that he take the truck immediately to a special area at the Town of Babylon's Recycling Center.
At the Recycling Center, six tons of smelly trash was dumped into an open area, where the Dyckmans proceeded to comb through a field of trash bags and rotting garbage in an attempt to rescue the rings.
Also assisting in the search were eight Recycling Center employees, including Jeremy Aretakis.
“She was visibly upset," Aretakis told CBS News. "She was ripping through garbage, disgusting stuff."
For the next four hours, the Dyckmans and the Babylon crew worked relentlessly.
“She didn’t stop, so none of us stopped,” Aretakis said.
When Ken Dyckman finally discovered the trash bag his wife threw away the night before, all the searchers were terribly disappointed when no rings emerged.
But town employee Kim Weathers had a hunch and insisted on double-checking the bag.
Sandwiched between slimy meat scraps and soggy cereal were Coleen Dyckman's rings, which were given to her by Ken nearly 20 years ago. They were worth about $5,000, but carried a priceless sentimental value.
“I was saying to myself, ‘I hope I find these rings,’ so I’m happy I found them, I really am,” Weathers told CBS News.
Colleen Dyckman was ecstatic. She wept tears of joy and hugged Weathers.
“It was beautiful. It was like out of a movie,” added Aretakis. “One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Wiggins noted that although his team often gets requests from residents who want to search the trash because they believe they've thrown away something valuable, very rarely will something as small as a ring be recovered.
"We're really glad we were able to help her and get her rings back," Wiggins told ABC News. "To be honest, in the 41 years I've been here, we've only been able to successfully recover lost items three times."
To show their appreciation, the Dyckmans returned the next day at lunchtime with pizza and homemade brownies for the crew.
"I couldn't be more thankful to them," Dyckman said. "They never ever stopped looking."
Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/Inside Edition.