It’s funny how life works out sometimes — how people often are in the right spot, at the right moment.
One might say it’s destiny.
But no matter how big of a long shot it might seem when asking for help, even in a town where there aren’t many familiar faces, there’s often a friendly one — or in Ketchikan’s case, an entire community full of friendly people — wanting to reach out and help.
Danielle Wakefield made a new Facebook friend while in Ketchikan.
The assistant coach for the Nunaka Valley Little League softball team from Anchorage was in town for the Junior Division state softball tournament this past week. And it was shortly after her plane landed on July 15 at the Ketchikan International Airport that she realized the diamond on her ring was missing.
The diamond has special meaning, as it’s the only thing Wakefield has from her dad who passed away.
“I got off the plane and went to the ferry, and by the time I had gotten off the ferry, I felt my ring — and my diamond was gone,” she said. “I couldn’t go back, so I basically left and came (to the softball field).
“And my mom was watching the (game’s livestream on) Facebook Live, and I said to my friend, ‘I lost my diamond. How am I going to tell my mom?’
“And my mom called me and said, ‘You lost your diamond,’ right away. It was weird.”
Moms have a knack for being all-knowing.
Moms also have a knack for giving good advice.
“She said post on Facebook, so I posted on Facebook,” Wakefield said.
In the post, Wakefield asked for help finding the diamond, saying it was the only thing she had of her late father, and how upset she was that she lost it.
“I had nothing else from him,” she said.
And the Facebook post spread rapidly in Ketchikan.
“Basically Ketchikan shared it everywhere in their community pages,” Wakefield said. “I was getting messages from people in the city, (saying) call the borough; here are phone numbers. People were really on top of this.”
The next day, Wakefield received a message from someone who thought she had found the diamond.
It was destiny.
In fact, it was — Destiny Madewell — a lead transportation security officer at the Ketchikan airport.
Madewell did, well, the right thing — picking up the shiny rock before it was vacuumed up in the baggage claim area.
“I had seen a post that a friend had shared with me on Facebook regarding (Wakefield) losing her diamond out of her ring,” Madewell said. “It was after she had arrived (on Alaska Airlines flight) 64, the night before. I just decided — I don't normally do this — but I shared the (post) on Facebook with some of my airport friends, hoping, you know, like a needle in a haystack, (maybe) they would find it.”
That haystack happened to be one of the busiest airports in Southeast Alaska — one that sees 700 people a day, on average during the summer months, according to Transportation Securtiy Manager Jeremiah Tucker.
“That number is really extraordinary if you think about the footprint of the airport, and what we see during other times of the year,” Lorie Dankers, spokesperson for Transportation Security Administration, said. “So it's a busy place. And so, I think that even underscores more, you know, but kind of keeping an eye out for these things. Our officers know to do that.”
Even after all of that foot traffic — and more than 24 hours later — Wakefield’s diamond lay there on the floor.
“I was sent downstairs at the end of the day to doublecheck, and make sure things were closed in our baggage area,” Madewell said. “As I was leaving and walking through the airport baggage claim area, something shiny on the floor caught my eye. I was going to keep walking, but decided to look at it closer, and I picked it up and it turned out to be the diamond.”
Lo and behold, Madewell found that “needle in a haystack.”
She took it to her supervisor, Jodi Muzzana, to doublecheck whether it matched Wakefield’s original Facebook post, and then sent Wakefield a message.
“I looked at my phone in the middle of a game, which I’m not supposed to do,” Wakefield said, “and (Madewell) said, ‘Is this yours?’
“I said, ‘It looks like mine, but I don’t know until I try to put it back in my ring,’” Wakefield continued. “She said, ‘Well, I’m going to be off the ferry at 8:30 p.m. — this is like 8:10 p.m. (on July 16) — so I was like, ‘I’m leaving.’”
Of course the diamond fit.
“She was beyond joy,” Madewell said of Wakefield’s reaction. “Very excited and happy. I don't think she had much hope that it was going to be found.”
But that’s not the end of the story.
Because just as the diamond fit her ring, Wakefield looked up, and saw two eagles fly overhead.
Eagles have special meaning to Wakefield and her family.
Her dad loved them.
“I turned around, and these two eagles flew right over us,” she said. “Which, I know you guys have a ton of eagles (in Ketchikan). But my dad loved eagles. We had bald eagles over our house.
“And I was like, that was (him saying), “I gave it back to you,’” Wakefield continued. “So now I have it.”
Perhaps that moment was destiny, too — a reminder that loved ones are near.
And a friendly face is never too far away.
“It was for sure a miracle,” Madewell said. “I’m not sure how I found it.”
She just happened to be in the right spot, at the right moment.
“She could’ve kept it,” Wakefield said. “... Her and her work partner, they could’ve kept it. And they didn’t. ... I was just so grateful.”
Ketchikan — the ‘First City’ — was first class.
“I almost didn’t post it,” Wakefield said. “I was like, ‘This is the biggest long shot.’ If I would’ve gone back, I couldn’t have found it. Who knows where it fell off.
“But it worked out.”
Life’s funny like that sometimes.
“Yeah, we are Facebook friends now,” Wakefield said of herself and Madewell. “Of course we are. And maybe we’ll be lifelong friends after this.”