New York: He liked her, so he put a ring on her.
But it was too big and it slipped off, disappearing Friday night into the abyss of a Times Square sidewalk grate, mere hours after a romantic New York City wedding proposal.
The groom, a tourist from England, was convinced it was gone for good. (So convinced that he had already bought a second ring after the couple’s return flight home touched down early on Sunday morning.)
But what happened next will surely be the fairy-tale stuff of family lore.
The couple, who had gotten engaged in Central Park, flagged down a police officer to report the ring mishap, after trying in vain to recover it on their own. But after waiting for about an hour, the couple walked away - without leaving their names - as police continued to search for the diamond-and-platinum dazzler.
The ensuing search for the ring by the New York Police Department involved the Emergency Service Unit, Special Operation officers - and a shift change.
By about 10.30am on Saturday, police had reported mission accomplished, and then initiated a social media search for the hapless couple that would have made Cinderella blush.
By that point, John Drennan and Daniella Anthony had already returned to the United Kingdom, where they purchased another ring shortly after landing, the groom-to-be said in an interview Sunday.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic,” Drennan said about the lucky turn. “We just cannot believe it.”
Grates are ubiquitous sidewalk features in New York, where they act as a morgue of sorts for untold numbers of personal items, like keys and phones. (Occasionally, they even swallow people.)
Most items are never reunited with their owners, but police said they will soon return Anthony’s ring to her.
Drennan, 36, said they did not file a police report because they never believed the ring would be found.
“I just thought it was gone forever,” said Anthony, 34.
Drennan had proposed to Anthony earlier Friday, a day after their 10th anniversary together. As she snapped pictures of a lake in Central Park, he got down on one knee. He asked her to marry him, and she said yes.
After the proposal, the couple, who live in Peterborough but met while working in Australia, went to dinner and later watched The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Drennan insisted she wear the ring.
As they walked past 2 Times Square, headed back to their hotel, the band suddenly slipped off, they said. It bounced around before tumbling through the grate.
Anthony said she felt sick.
“I was devastated,” she said. “I was literally crying. It was the worst moment of my life.”
Strangers stopped to offer help and assurances as police tried to locate the ring. Anthony said she was moved by a young girl with Down syndrome, who hugged her and said she loved her. The strangers’ warmth helped the couple to walk away without finding the ring, Drennan said.
“It’s important, but it’s a symbol of love,” he said of the ring.
The love itself is far more valuable, he said. “When you have something so beautiful like that,” he said, “it just puts everything in perspective.”
The couple had planned to keep the lost ring a secret, so as not to taint the occasion for their friends and family. But Drennan said a friend forwarded him the police Twitter message and asked, “Is this for real?”
The message contained a video showing the couple searching for the ring before help arrives. The man, tall in a blue blazer, dark pants and a paperboy hat, got down on his belly and peered through the grate. His fiancee, in a short jacket and heels, slipped her hair behind her ears and squatted next to him.
Drennan called the tips hotline on Sunday, and spent hours on the phone answering questions from detectives to confirm the ring was his. He also submitted a photo, which investigators used to verify his identity with the officers who initially responded to the call for help.
Officers continued searching for the ring after a shift change, and luck struck around 10.30am, when Special Operations officers unearthed it.
Drennan said he had purchased the ring from Fraser Hart in England, where the couple returned Sunday to buy another. The first had cost several thousand dollars, Drennan said, and was not insured.
A Twitter user quipped, “I hope the couple is grate-ful.”
The couple said they plan to return the newer ring and have the other re-sized. Perhaps, Drennan said, they will use the refund money to return to New York and buy a round for the officers who went “above and beyond” to save it.
“That would never happen anywhere else in the world,” Drennan said. “It’s just incredible.”
No date has been set, but the couple plans to marry in 2020.