KETCHIKAN, Alaska - Alaskans take pride in looking out for each other. So, it was not unusual that Destiny Madewell who lives in Ketchikan, Alaska, shared a post she saw on Facebook about a woman from the Anchorage area who had lost the diamond from her ring after landing at Ketchikan International Airport (KTN). The woman, a coach for the Nanuka Valley Little League, had flown into KTN the night before ahead of a state softball tournament.
Madewell, who is a Lead Transportation Security Officer (LTSO) for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in Ketchikan, immediately shared the post so her friends who work at the airport would see it, on the outside chance they spotted the missing diamond.
“Looking for a lost diamond at the airport was the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack,’ but I knew from the Facebook post that the diamond had sentimental value to the owner. It had been given to her by her late father,” said LTSO Madewell. “I wanted to help in any way I could, to get the word out among the Ketchikan airport community.”
Later that same day as LTSO Madewell was wrapping up her shift, she went downstairs to confirm the checked baggage screening area was secured for the evening. While returning to the security checkpoint upstairs, she walked through the baggage claim area.
Something that was sparkling on the floor caught her eye. She took a closer look and was shocked it was the diamond described in the Facebook post. She immediately picked it up.
The woman who had lost the diamond had been at baggage claim about 24 hours earlier. Remarkably, the diamond had laid on the floor, undisturbed - and unseen - by an estimated 500 people who had been through that area of the airport after since the previous evening.
“I took the diamond upstairs and showed it to my supervisor who was aware of the Facebook post,” said LTSO Madewell. “We immediately reached out to the traveler to begin the process of reuniting her with the diamond.”
The traveler, Danielle Wakefield, was coaching in a softball game when LTSO Madewell made contact with her via Facebook. Within a few hours, Wakefield met Madewell and Supervisory TSO Jodi Muzzana outside the airport and the solitaire diamond was returned to its owner.
Wakefield later noted in a follow-up Facebook post that her late father who gave her the diamond loved bald eagles. And, just as the TSA employees handed the diamond over to her, two bald eagles flew overhead.
“TSA employees come in contact with all types of lost and found items during the course of their duties. We are pleased when we have the opportunity to reunite a traveler with their belongings, especially those items of great monetary or sentimental value,” said STSO Muzzana. “This was an extraordinary event and something that we will never forget. We are so happy to have played a role in returning this special diamond to its owner and we’ve made a new friend along the way.”
“We train our employees to be alert in all situations and in all aspects of their job. This training paid off! I am so proud of the KTN TSA team, their integrity and ongoing commitment to the community,” said Federal Security Director for Alaska Pete Duffy. “They make a positive difference in so many ways, every single day.”
This is the second lost diamond that TSA officers have recovered in July. Earlier this month, a woman traveling out of John F. Kennedy International Airport lost the diamond out of her ring and it was found by TSA hours later in the security checkpoint.