By PETE WALTON
While swimming in the ocean recently off Bradley Beach, 15-year-old Nicky Schneider lost his grandmother’s chain and crucifix.
Nicky and his mother Terri were devastated. Terri’s father bought the chain while on a trip to Europe for Nicky’s grandmother, who died four years ago.
The next day, Tropical Storm Isaias hit.
“I decided to post the missing chain on the Bradley Beach Facebook page figuring it was a long shot, especially now that this crazy storm had come through,” said Terri’s friend AnnMarie Neary Bergwall of New York and Spring Lake.
Six days later, Bradley Beach resident Jane DeNoble was on the beach and spotted someone with a metal detector. DeNoble later learned it was Rich Hageney of Doylestown, Pa., a sales representative for Medtronic and a member of theringfinders.com, a group of independent metal detecting specialists.
“I have been metal detecting since I was 10 years old,” Hageney said. “Having returned countless treasures over the years, I have found returning these items as thrilling as finding them.”
“Jane went over to him and half jokingly asked if by chance he had found anything,” Bergwall said. “She then told him to go look on Fifth Avenue because someone lost a gold chain and crucifix six days ago.
Rich proceeded to go down two avenues to look. Within 10 minutes, he located a gold chain and crucifix under the wet sand.”
“I saw a man with a metal detector and mentioned it to him and to keep his eyes peeled,” DeNoble said. “And seriously, less than 10 minutes later, he’s back with it in his hand.”
DeNoble sent Bergwall a message through Facebook.
“I called Nicky’s mom, Terri, to tell her that there was a possibility that her mother’s chain was found,” Bergwall said. “I put Terri and Jane in touch with each other. They wanted to see a picture of the chain and crucifix before showing it to Terri to be sure it was hers. Terri could not find one, but swore if it was not the right one she would not say it was. Jane and Rich then sent a picture of the chain and crucifix for Terri to look at. She burst into tears because it was her mother’s crucifix.”
Bergwall drove to Bradley Beach with Terri and Nick from Spring Lake, where the Morristown residents had been staying.
“We jumped in the car to go meet these selfless and kind people to pick up the chain,” Bergwall said. “Our faith is restored. There are great people out there.”
“You can imagine how [Nick] felt when he lost it,” DeNoble said. “It’s amazing how the necklace survived the storm. People were watching us as she was overwhelmed with happiness. I’m just so happy to be a small part of the miracle that happened that day.”