CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — An Iowa teenager visiting the Coastal Bend with her choir group is singing the praises of the Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation Department. That's because she lost an irreplaceable keepsake of her deceased father at McGee beach.
The city was able to locate the memento, bringing a happy end to this story, with a last minute surprise.
17-year-old Emily Dickerson is all about choir, cheer, being with friends and the sand and surf when she can find it.
"I love the beach. It was gorgeous. We were having fun," she said.
After a performance at Six Flags in San Antonio with 200 of her classmates from Council Bluffs in Iowa, the charter buses brought them to the Sparkling City by the Bay to cool off. On her hand was a special ring with her father's ashes inside.
"I was definitely a Daddy's girl. I was his princess."
Fearful of losing that ring in the water, she took it off and put it inside a Subway sandwich box which she thought wasn't going anywhere. Later, when she and her friends hit the road, Emily realized she left her precious memento behind.
"The charter bus wasn't able to drive all the way back to Corpus Christi to look through some trash. Those were his ashes. You can't replace those," she added.
Her mother, Tina, called the city on a Friday, Father's Day weekend of all days, and left a message with Parks and Rec. Monday morning, Laura Perez, the parks operation supervisor, received the voicemail and sprang into action. Perez traced that trash to a 4-ton dumpster on Cooper's Alley and, in the South Texas sweltering heat, she and her team dug through bags and bags of waste.
"Nothing in one. So, we went to another bag and we did the same thing over and over," said Perez.
After 3 brutal hours under the sun with feels-like temps exceeding 115-degrees that day, Perez's team managed to locate it...in the last bag!
However, that was not the end to this story. There were 3 more rings missing inside the dumpster.
"'Did you find the other rings?' And I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' I said, 'There's more?' She said, 'yes!'"
There was one ring from Emily's grandmother, a sweet 16 ring and a promise ring from her boyfriend. Perez headed back out and crawled through that waste bin once again and... success!
Emily said she was "so ecstatic, honestly. To find out they found them. I was in disbelief. I was so shocked that they were so capable."
Her advice to all when visiting the water: just leave the valuables behind!
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