Last month, a vicious tornado swept through the city of Canton, Texas destroying everything in its path – including the home of Justin and Ariel Duke.
“Literally our house was just leveled. It wasn’t destroyed, it just wasn’t there,” Justin Duke said in an interview with ABC News in the aftermath of the tornado’s destruction.
“It was a small, little yellow farmhouse on top of the hill. The perfect starter home.”
Aside from losing everything they own, the Duke couple were truly devastated that Ariel’s wedding band and engagement ring had been lost in the storm.
She removed both rings at her in-law’s home which were scattered when the tornado hit. The debris flew for miles in every direction.
The couple, who had only been married for 3-months, had been out searching for the rings. Days passed and the sheer amount of debris they had to go through made looking for the rings impossible.
That’s when they decided to post photos of the lost rings on Facebook in hopes that they might be returned – but by this time they had given up.
That’s when a small miracle happened. Nathan Wright, a metal detector hobbyist, discovered their post and knew he wanted to help.
“By the time I had come across it they had kind of given up,” Wright said.
“It was about eight days since it happened and they had a bunch of people out there using rakes and doing everything they could to find it.”
“It’s pretty hard to detect somewhere like that because there’s so much debris and metal spread everywhere,” Wright said. “Their place wasn’t even recognizable that a house was there. It was just broken wood and debris scattered over about 100 yards.”
The tornado was so powerful that it had hurled a 40-foot shipping container a mile away from where the Duke house stood. Still, Wright felt like he had to try and find those rings. The good Samaritan had covered about half an acre in the first two hours of searching.
“I got into one area when I started finding earrings,” he said. “The first one I found I was like, ‘OK this could be a pretty good sign.’ I got a signal that I thought was going to be another piece of trash and I bent down and moved a little bit of debris away, and right up under the grass was the engagement ring. I hollered out and was so excited. I’d spent three hours doing some heavy praying I was going to be able to find it.”
Amazingly, after finding the engagement ring Wright found the second wedding ring about 30 feet away.
”This one was about an inch dug into the ground,” he said. “I bent down and knew the gold looked exactly like the engagement ring. To be able to find both of those in the debris-strewed field like that was unreal. I’ll remember that forever.”
After finding both rings, Wright immediately went to the disheartened couple to surprise them with the miraculous news.
“He pulled out the wedding band and we were like, ‘OK cool,’ Then he said, ‘Well if you’re excited about this then you’re really going to like this.’ He pulled it out and there it was. We were just in shock,” Justin said. “I was so thankful he found them. It was amazing. It really was,” said Ariel.
“There is a miracle that can come out of tragedy,” said Justin. “It seemed like we were on downward spiral, but with him finding the rings, we’re on an upswing and getting on with life. We’re going to see what the good Lord has in store for us.”
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