After making the 83-mile drive to Arbuckle from Lodi after playing in a soccer tournament in May, Ricardo Hernandez thought he would never see the class ring given to him by his family again.
Hernandez, 20, thought the ring had fallen from his pocket somewhere between the soccer field and his car.
The 2010 Pierce High School graduate searched the fields at Lakewood Elementary School in Lodi for more than hour after the tournament to no avail.
“The ring means a lot to me,” Hernandez said. “It was a graduation present from my parents and uncle so it was really special. I gave it up for lost.”
Fast-forward to last Thursday evening.
Lodi resident Joel Ramirez, 28, was scouring the fields at Lakewood Elementary with his metal detector with his friend Jason Pettitt. He just started metal detecting a month earlier and had yet to make a big find.
That changed when his detector began beeping, leading him to a large gold ring.
He showed it to Pettitt, and the two talked about Ramirez possibly selling the ring and using the money to buy a pinpointer — a device that helps narrow down the location of an object found by a metal detector.
But later that night when Ramirez was cleaning the ring, which was caked in mud, he found an inscription inside. His wife Sandra made out the name engraved inside the band — Ricardo Hernandez
That’s when he knew he had to return the ring instead of selling it.
“There’s an unwritten law in metal detecting — if you can find the owner, you’ve got to give it back,” Ramirez said.
Not sure what to do, Ramirez went on to Facebook and searched Hernandez’s name.
He said the first Ricardo Hernandez that popped up in the search had pictures on his Facebook page showing him wearing the ring. Ramirez sent Hernandez a message through the social media site, but got no response. He tried calling the Lodi Police Department and the Colusa County Sheriffs’ Department to try and get contact information for Hernandez, to no avail.
This sent him back to Facebook, where he realized he had a cousin who was friends with one of Hernandez’s friends. He began working that angle.
By Sunday night Ramirez got in touch with Hernandez.
“He was completely shocked,” Ramirez said. “He couldn’t believe I was calling him about his ring. He was really, really happy.”
So happy that Hernandez gave Ramirez a $100 reward for finding the lost ring after Sandra Ramirez met up with him on Tuesday at California State University, Sacramento — where they both are attending college — to return it.
Hernandez said he wanted to show his appreciation for Ramirez going out of his way to track him down.
“I wanted to give him a reward because I would have never been able to get another one,” Hernandez said.
Ramirez said he wasn’t expecting a reward — he just wanted to do the right thing.
But he took the money — calling it a happy ending for everyone — and bought a new pinpointer for his metal detector.
“Luckily Facebook is around,” Ramirez said. “Otherwise I probably never would have found him.”
Contact reporter Todd Allen Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.