Workers help woman find necklace buried in hospital waste

In this June 21, 2017 photo, Samantha "Sam" LaRochelle, left, stands with her wife, Audrey LaRochelle, at their home in Lopatcong Township, N.J., wearing the irreplaceable necklace that had been removed from her neck during an emergency visit to St. Luke's Hospital, in Phillipsburg on June 17, 2017. Staff at Covanta Energy Corp. in Oxford Township dug through a 15-ton pile of hospital waste to find it. (Kurt Bresswein/The Express-Times via AP)

OXFORD, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey woman has been reunited with her special necklace that was thrown in the trash after she went to a hospital, thanks to a group of hardworking sanitation workers.

Samantha LaRochelle was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in Phillipsburg on Saturday after falling unconscious, LehighValleyLive.com reports. Hospital staff removed LaRochelle’s prized dual-pendant and accidentally threw it in the trash.

On the customized chain hangs her grandfather’s pendant and a second 14-karat gold pendant containing her late mother’s thumbprint. LaRochelle’s wife, Audrey, got the chain specially made for her.

“This thing means more to me than the world,” said LaRochelle.

LaRochelle began her search Monday. She tracked down the sanitation company that handles hospital waste with the help of a Phillipsburg police officer who scanned nine hours of surveillance video.

By Wednesday, LaRochelle’s search led her Covanta Energy Plant in Oxford where workers dug through 15 tons of hospital waste to find her necklace.

Steve Acierno, a worker at the plant, came up with the necklace after a two-hour search.

“She was super-excited to have it back. Just a great start to our day. We were all really happy for her,” Acierno said.

LaRochelle treated the sanitation workers to lunch and cake Thursday. She still can’t thank them enough for finding her necklace.

“It’s something I could never replace and they took the time, the effort,” she said.

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Information from: NJ Advance Media.