LAKEVILLE, WAYNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)– It’s not a call they get every day, but it was one that the Ledgedale Volunteer Dive and Rescue team was more than willing to go to.
“I was convinced that they weren’t going to find it, and then Richard [Pontosky, Ledgedale Volunteer Fire Department dive lieutenant] came up with the ring,” said Mary Grace Paulnack.
Mary Grace and Carl Paulnack have spent the last 20-plus years of their retirement living just off of Lake Wallenpaupack, in Lakeville. Through 64 years of marriage, the bride’s wedding ring has only come off a handful of times, but on Wednesday Mary Grace’s wedding ring fell into the murky waters by their dock.
“It fell off of her finger. I thought ‘how could it fall off of her finger when we had trouble getting off when she had to have surgery,” Carl questioned.
He says he panicked and as an engineer, thought the worst.
“I had this dread that this was an omen,” Carl added. “That my life was now–instead of this wonderful life I’ve been having–it’s going to be disaster after disaster.”
Carl says Mary Grace remained the voice of reason and the couple took to social media. That’s where they found the Ledgedale Volunteer Fire Department’s Dive and Rescue Team page.
“They reached out on social media and Rich was able to respond. On his way home from work, he was able to go down, talk to them about what had happened, they’d marked the area, they went down and he was able to recover it in 18 feet of water,” said dive captain for the volunteer crew, Joe Sledzinsky, adding he has a veteran squad that trains rigorously for all types of dives. “These guys dive every Sunday throughout the year. That way they know what they’re going to be up against, no matter what happens on a call.”
The usual call is not so light-hearted, but Sledzinsky has never been anything short of confident in his team. He cites the difference between looking for a rescue and a ring.
“Something like this is a little bit different than if you’re going down for a rescue operation. With this, you’d be a little bit slower–more methodical to make sure you’re not kicking up any debris on the bottom,” he added. “Because once you lose your visibility looking for something that small, you’re pretty much going to have to step back and let things settle down for a while.”
Sledzinsky adds that most of the roughly 30-minute operation for the Paulnack wedding ring was preparation and veteran know-how. Carl and Mary Grace are amazed at how quick and smooth the process was from reaching out to recovery.
“We got to Richard–and Richard was positive. He said “I’ll get it for ya,” said Carl. “Finally Rich comes up with the ring–it’s a miracle.”
The Paulnacks are elated to have their ring back and while Pontosky wouldn’t take any payment for the mission, Mary Grace made sure he left with a donation for the volunteer fire company.
As for the post-incident attitude towards the rescued ring?
“I can’t even get it off now,” said Mary Grace.
“Last night, when we got in bed–I said ‘show me your hand, I want to see the rings,'” Carl remarked.
After all is said and done, it was a successful rescue mission. The happy couple is just excited to have the ring on Mary Grace’s finger in time for their 65th wedding anniversary.