Brian McGuinn stood before a 9-ton mountain of smelly, rotten garbage, knowing it was his only chance to go from zero to hero.
The night before, he’d accidentally tossed his wife’s 1.5-carat diamond engagement ring into the trash — along with his disposable razor.
In the intervening hours since the night of Oct. 30, the custom-designed platinum ring he’d given Anna McGuinn, his wife of five years, had gone from the bathroom waste basket to the Margate-neighborhood trash bin to the Wheelabrator dump in Pompano Beach.
The crew at the dump gave McGuinn a mask, thick leather gloves, a hard hat and a full protective suit that made him look like a space man.
“I had a fighting chance,” Brian McGuinn said.
But the dump crew warned him to not get his hopes up. In all the years people had come to the dump looking for their valuables, only one woman had found what she was looking for — and that was after searching three days for eight hours each day.
Still, he waded into the 10-foot high pile debris, filled with rotten eggs, dirty diapers and chicken carcasses.
Overcome by the stench, McGuinn, 34, threw up.
About 20 minutes into his search, Joel Ryan, a utility operator at Wheelabrator, offered to get a bulldozer and level out the pile to make it easier.
The driver who’d picked up the garbage from the McGuinns’ community dump suggested he look in the far end of the pile.
Just 10 minutes later, McGuinn noticed something familiar: the hot pink cup from Menchies, his wife’s favorite spot for frozen yogurt. He dived toward the cup and started to dig frantically. He uncovered the couple’s garbage bag.
Just one problem: He hadn’t tied it closed, and many of the contents were missing.
Brian McGuinn stopped and said a prayer. As he opened his eyes, he spotted a familiar shower cap and conditioner bottle. He began lifting other bags and found the disposable razor.
Still, no platinum ring.
With the thick leather gloves he’d been given, McGuinn couldn’t feel anything as delicate at the missing ring. He had only one choice left: take off the glove and plunge his naked hand into the 5-inch pool of black sludge.
“It had been raining profusely, there was like five inches of nastiness,’’ he said.
McGuinn felt around, thinking he had found a nail. But when he pulled his sludge-covered hand from the pile, McGuinn let out a Tarzan-like yell. He was holding the diamond ring.
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