With a little luck and a metal detector, a Stevenson Ranch couple was reunited with a wedding band lost 18 years prior at Dr. Richard H. Rioux Memorial Park.
When Hart High School sweethearts Dave and Roxana Napoli got married in 1993, they exchanged two gold wedding bands, engraved with their names and wedding date.
Ten years later, after the Napolis settled in Stevenson Ranch to start their family, Dave lost his wedding band while playing catch with his son at Richard Rioux Park.
“We’d go up there all the time to play with the kids when they were little,” Roxana said. “He was playing catch with my son, and his ring flew off because it was loose on him.”
Even now, the Napolis’ now-23-year-old son recalls seeing his dad pacing back and forth, trying to find the ring, Roxana added.
Though the couple went back to the park several times to search for the ring, they could never find it.
“Thinking that we’d never find it, my wife and I went out to buy another ring,” Dave said.
Fast forward 18 years, and the Napolis were surprised to receive a call on their house phone from a Valencia resident, asking some odd questions.
“(He) basically said, ‘Are you Roxana?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And then he said, ‘Are you married to a Dave?’” Roxana said.
While thinking the questions were a tad strange, it all began to fall into place when Johnny P., who asked his last name be omitted, mentioned the park.
“It was very, very strange, especially because he was asking me all these questions,” Roxana added. “(But) then he said, ‘I found a gold band at Richard Rioux Park, and I believe it’s yours.’ … It’d 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 agreed, adding, “I was really happy when she picked up the phone. I could just hear the excitement in her voice.”
Johnny explained that he’d been walking around the park with his metal detector when he got a hit. Using a plug to carefully pull the metal object out of the ground without damaging the grass, Johnny said he was excited when he saw gold.
“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.”
Taking a bit of time to do some detective work, Johnny was able to find the Napolis’ home phone number.
“A little bit of research on the internet and putting some pieces together, I was able to track them down and felt there was a lot more value to them than me,” Johnny added.
The Napolis agreed to meet Johnny at the park, where they showed him Roxana’s matching band.
For Johnny, finding and then returning the ring was a great way to close out the year.
“It was really cool to do something good for somebody. This year’s been such a challenge … so it was a nice way to close out what was otherwise a pretty terrible year,” he said. “You never know what you’re gonna pull up, and the icing on the cake was being able to return it to its owner. … The payoff is more just to make somebody else happy.”
With their bands reunited, Dave and Roxana agree it was a pretty remarkable occasion for the new year.
“I was just blown away,” Roxana said.
“It’s crazy when you think about it. That ring was in the dirt longer than it was on my finger,” Dave added. “Truly a new year’s miracle that really only happens once in a lifetime. Once again, thank you John for being a good soul.”