VIDEO: Family Finds Mom's Lost Jewels in Landfill

(Video courtesy NBC)

10/12/2007 AT 10:00 AM EDT

(Video courtesy NBC)



Compounding a family tragedy in Pennsylvania after the loss of 84-year-old patriarch George Myers, his widow Susan, a diabetic, collapsed and was rushed to the local emergency room – where her engagement ring, a 50th anniversary ring she inherited from her mother, another ring and a pearl bracelet from her husband were removed, and, accidentally, thrown out with the garbage.

When it came to their chances of recovery, "One in a million, is what I told them," hospital custodian Frank Dabney warned Susan's grown children – who refused to tell their recuperating mother that son Greg was the culprit who placed the family jewels (which were sprinkled with diamonds and emeralds) in a latex hospital glove, only to misplace the glove, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

"I just don't remember," Greg, 45, told the paper. "I was tired, preoccupied and emotionally spent. The room was full of commotion and distractions."

Still contrite, Greg appeared – along with the rest of his family, including mother Susan and, as it turned out, family hero Frank Dabney – on Friday's Today show to tell the jaw-dropping tale of what happened next.

The Search Begins

Despite further warnings about the impossibility of the task before them, Dabney, 47, joined brothers Cam and Jeff Myers who, along with Greg, waded in frantic search of the lost jewels through 15 tons of garbage at the Lanchester Landfill in Honey Brook, Pa.

So worried about their mother's reaction should she find out her jewelry was gone, the family asked that the hospital keep Susan an extra day, reported Today's Meredith Vieira. The family also videotaped their hunt through the landfill, for when they inevitably had to explain to Susan all they had done in an attempt to retrieve what they believed would be her loss.

Throughout their search of 500 bags of trash from the hospital alone, it was Dabney who kept advising, "Don't give up five minutes before the miracle."

To the family's way of thinking, the loss was a sign of some act of divine intervention from their late father, to take their mind off their grieving, because, as Greg joked with Vieira, "Dad knocked [the glove] into the trash can."

Even so, after nearly seven hours of searching the landfill, the Myers boys were ready to give up. Dabney was not.

"I kept going and I pulled the last bag," he said on Today, "and there it was ... I just thanked God." As for what he accomplished, Dabney said, "I don't feel like a hero. I just felt, I'd want someone to do the same for me."

Mother Knows Best

Finally made aware of the dramatic events that had transpired while she was in the hospital, Susan's jewelry was returned to her. "I'm getting used to being glad," the 83-year-old said from her home in West Brandywine, Pa., on Today, "because I did not know they were lost. So, therefore, when they were found, I had to think about it."

She also added, that as far as her jewelry is now concerned, "I'm certainly not going to give it to them for safekeeping."

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