Jan. 12 (UPI) -- A California man treasure hunting at a public park ended up discovering a wedding ring that had been lost during a game of catch 18 years earlier.
Roxana Napoli, of Stevenson Ranch, said her husband, Dave, had been playing catch with their son at Dr. Richard H. Rioux Memorial Park about 10 years after their 1993 wedding when his ring flew off his finger.
"He was playing catch with my son, and his ring flew off because it was loose on him," Napoli told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.
Dave Napoli said he searched the park, but was never able to locate the ring.
"Thinking that we'd never find it, my wife and I went out to buy another ring," Napoli said.
The couple said they were surprised recently to receive a phone call from a Valencia man, who wanted to be identified only as Johnny P.
Roxana Napoli said the caller asked her some strange questions, including verifying her name and that of her husband.
"It was very, very strange, especially because he was asking me all these questions," she said. "Then he said, 'I found a gold band at Richard Rioux Park, and I believe it's yours.'
"It had been so long that I hadn't even thought of it. Then, when he said he found it up at the park, it all kind of just clicked in. It was just surreal."
Johnny said the ring had set off his metal detector.
"It was about 5 inches underground, believe it or not," Johnny said.
"That was my first actual gold ring that I've ever found, which was amazing. I was floored, but saw the inscription in there and kind of felt like I can't really enjoy this find unless I put an effort forth to find the owners."
He said some online detective work helped him identify the owners from the inscription and he was able to find their contact information.
The couple said they were excited to have the original ring back.
"It's crazy when you think about it. That ring was in the dirt longer than it was on my finger," Dave Napoli said. "Truly a new year's miracle that really only happens once in a lifetime. Once again, thank you John for being a good soul."
A Pennsylvania woman recently received a similar unusual call after a man walking on a beach found her mother's high school class ring, which had been lost 50 years earlier.
Stephanie Livelsberger said her mother had lost the ring decades before her death 19 years ago, so it was a shock when The Steelton-Highspire High School alumni association told her the item had been found.
Pittsburgh resident Timothy Noll said he had found the ring on a beach during a vacation years earlier, and recently contacted the association for help finding its owner.