A trip to Kua Bay turned dreadful for a 60-year-old woman from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, after she lost her wedding ring the day before her 20th anniversary.
Because of their love of boogie boarding, Dawn Doull and her husband, George, decided to take advantage of some nice waves there on Feb. 26. While playing in the ocean, Doull’s 18-karat gold ring with diamonds slipped off her finger, and she didn’t notice it was missing until they got back to their vehicle.
“I freaked. I was so upset and (started) instantly crying,” Doull recalled. “We headed right back to the beach and searched the sand, but I knew it was lost in the water and the chances of it being found was small.”
Later, the couple made signs and posted them at the beach, where they came back several days in row and continued searching. They also spoke to several beachgoers, state park staff and even a lifeguard at Hapuna Beach whom they saw using a metal detector. But after no progress, Doull said she basically gave up hope of ever seeing it again.
“I don’t take my ring off ever and it’s been a part of me for the past 20 years,” she said. “My heart just dropped. It was the worst feeling, just awful.”
Fortunately, Kailua-Kona resident Johnny Fetterly, known locally as “Johnie Bling,” had heard about the buried beloved treasure and was already sleuthing in the sand.
For years, Bling has found a treasure trove of lost and forgotten items at local beaches by using a metal detector. Besides developing a knack for recovering these possessions, he has been quite successful in reuniting the items with their owners. This is mostly a hobby, though some grateful owners do give rewards, he said.
Bling, 52, got his first metal detector as a kid. Little did he know then that it would provide him with years of fun, fulfillment, exercise and “the darnedest discoveries.” Bling said he has also discovered that helping people find lost items has its own set of incalculable rewards.
“It feels fabulous helping return something someone thought was gone forever,” he said. “It’s a special feeling that brings a great amount of satisfaction and a breath of life to the owner of the reclaimed item.”
Word-of-mouth from locals about his good deeds is typically where his clients come from. Besides referrals or seeing postings for lost items, Bling said he also uses classified advertisement website Craigslist and newspapers to announce his services and find the owners of his recoveries. His assistance is typically sought to find jewelry or keys.
There’s more to metal detecting than what’s generally perceived.
“It’s not a magic wand. I don’t just wave it over an area and suddenly the item appears,” Bling said. “There are lots of other factors you have to take into consideration, including weather and surf conditions. You also have to sort out where the item was lost from where people realized they lost it, which sometimes means working like a detective and working backwards through each activity that happened the day they lost the item.”
Bling found Doull’s ring about two weeks ago. He said it was “a stroke of luck, kind of like going to Las Vegas and pulling a royal flush.” Through research, he was able to track down Stittgen, the ring’s designer which is based in West Vancouver, and emailed the company a description of it. Doull’s ring was engraved with the message “Together we cross the River of Life.”
Doull returned home from the Big Island on March 21. Less than a week later, she called Stittgen to inquire about having another ring designed and explained how she had lost her ring while vacationing in Hawaii.
“The woman at Stittgen almost screamed with delight as she had an email from someone who had found a ring,” she said. “And, it was my ring!”
From there, Doull and Bling connected by phone. Since her friends from Canada were still vacationing in Kona, Doull made arrangements for them to pick up the ring from Bling. The ring was delivered to them March 27.
“I so appreciate the time and effort he put into this to get my ring back to me. He’s such an honest and amazing fellow,” Doull said. “Not only does he have the incredible skills to find my ring, he possesses a great deal of integrity to return it to us with no expectations. He’s only genuinely pleased to help. This only endears the Big Island and its people even more to us. We can’t thank him enough.”