Michelle Slayton admires her recovered wedding ring Thursday outside of her Medford home. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore

The amazing true story of the Flushing Bride

When Medford resident Michelle Slayton dropped her beloved wedding ring down the commode Thursday night, she did what any self-respecting bride would do.

"I freaked out. I was so upset. I couldn't believe it," she said. "I was in tears. I figured there was no way I would see it again."

The 50-year-old had worn the ring on a chain around her neck for safekeeping because of her job as a night clerk at South Fred Meyer. The chain had snapped, allowing the ring to slip into the toilet bowl at the exact moment she turned to flush.

Most heart-wrenching, she said, was how long she'd waited for the ring to begin with.

Slayton and her husband, Joe, were high-school sweethearts who dated again in their 20s while living in Klamath Falls, but both went on to marry other people. They were reunited by her now sister-in-law, settled in Medford seven years ago and were wed on a beach in Mexico at sunset in March 2006.

"It really meant a lot to me to finally get married to him, so I was devastated when my ring went down the toilet like that," Slayton said.

Discouraged but not deterred, Joe Slayton called a co-worker with plumbing experience to try checking a plumbing trap.

When that attempt produced no jewel, the couple hired a plumber from Art of Plumbing in Medford to assess the situation. When he failed to find treasure, the plumber suggested visiting Rogue Valley Sewer Services with a photo of the platinum, half-karat wedding set.

With her wedding and engagement rings soldered together, Michelle Slayton held out hope that the weight of the set had left it stranded at the bottom of a pipe. Being at the tail end of a sewer line, she would soon learn, would work to her advantage.

"I had dropped off the picture, and no sooner than I got back home, I got a call from a guy at the office, and he told me to use as little water as possible until Monday and they would try to come out," Slayton said.

"We used as little water as we could — we didn't wash dishes or clothes — but, you know, you have to flush! I did say, 'Nobody use that bathroom!'"

When she returned home at 8:30 a.m. from working the graveyard shift as a stock and pricing clerk on Monday, Slayton was met by two sewer trucks.

Kevan Kerby and Brian Christensen, members of a video-inspection team with RVS, along with cleaning-crew members Charles Griggs and John Thorpe, greeted Slayton in the street outside her house.

"I get out of my car and I'm like, 'Bet you're not having any luck are ya?'

"One of them motioned for me to come over and showed me on the camera screen and said, 'Is that it?'" Slayton recalled.

"I was so excited. I could not believe it. It was hung up on some goo and some other stuff! Probably my hair from the shower," she said with a laugh.

Griggs said it was "not a big deal" to help a customer of the service district.

"It's not something that happens every day. It was just something where we were able to do something nice for somebody, and she really appreciated it," Griggs said. "She was very excited, to say the least. We tried to quietly sneak away, but she chased us across the lawn with a notepad and wanted to get our names."

Terry Sackett, operations manager for RVS, said most jewelry lost down drains or toilets isn't recovered.

"I would take a guess that 90 percent or more rings that are lost that way aren't found. There are a lot of times where our customers have questions and ask for assistance, like with pumps that aren't ours, and we always try to help out when we can," Sackett said.

"Public utilities are managed with revenue that is a tax revenue or service charge, and so many of them are fiscally challenged right now. The maintenance we do on our system is paid for by our customers, so we make an effort to be good neighbors."

After the rings were thoroughly cleaned and repaired — two prongs had been damaged prior to the flushing incident — Slayton took to wearing the set on her finger instead of a chain.

"It just slid right off the chain before. I'm never doing that again," she said.

"I'm so lucky to have it back at all. I can't believe how this all turned out."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at

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