Three days after NBC 4 New York aired the story of a mother's search for a precious necklace from her late teenage daughter, the missing item has miraculously been found and will be returned across the ocean back to Vicky Pyne in the U.K.
It was on Valentine's Day in Times Square that Pyne lost the necklace bearing the fingerprints of her daughters Milly and Alice, the 17-year-old girl who died of Hodgkin's lymphoma two years ago. Alice had made the necklace when she learned her cancer was terminal and given it to her mother before she died in January 2013.
Pyne, who was visiting from England, was devastated. Alice's necklace had never left her neck since she first put it on. Pyne last remembered touching the fingerprint, as she often did to remember her daughter, at the Applebee's restaurant in Times Square. She continued shopping, walking to Herald Square, and didn't notice it missing until she got to her hotel.
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"I was absolutely horrified when I realized it was missing," she said.
She retraced her steps to no avail.
"I think my only worry was if a snowplow had plowed it up and dumped it in the Hudson or something," she said.
Pyne took to social media, hoping instead the priceless piece of jewelry was lost somewhere on the streets of New York City. [[293090341, C]]
As it turns out, that's exactly where Freddy and Emelie Ortiz found it.
After NBC 4 New York aired her story Tuesday, the Yonkers family reached out to Pyne: her necklace had been found.
Freddy Ortiz was walking with his family on 34th Street Saturday when his 18-month-old daughter kicked off her sock. When he bent down to fix the sock, he noticed a woman staring at a necklace on the pavement. When she kept walking, he decided it looked too important to just ignore.
He and wife Emelie picked up the necklace and noticed the two girls' names. Coincidentally, they are also the parents of two daughters, as well as an older son.
"I was going to leave it hanging somewhere, but something told me to just take it with me, and somebody will probably claim it one day," Ortiz told NBC 4 New York Friday.
"Maybe something made our daughter take her sock off, made us stop right there in that spot," said Emelie Ortiz.
The Ortiz family said they knew the necklace was Pyne's when they saw her story on NBC 4 New York's Facebook page.
"Tuesday, I was looking at my Facebook page, and I noticed a necklace with a girl next to it, and I told my wife, 'Look, honey, it looks like the necklace I found,'" said Freddy Ortiz.
Some 3,000 miles away, Vicky Pyne read an email from Emelie through tears.
"I have some amazing news for you," the email began.
"To see the photo of my necklace, I was just like, 'Oh, wow," Pyne told NBC 4 New York Friday from her home in Ulverston, Cumbria, adding that she felt "unbelievably emotional" and that it felt like getting a piece of her daughter back. [[293090611, C]]
Vicky hopes to meet the Ortiz family on her next trip back to New York.
She posted an update expressing her thanks on Facebook: "Feeling emotional -- thanks to the most wonderful couple, Emilie and Freddie, along with John Chandler at NBC, Alice's fingerprint has been found in NYC!"
In 2013, even as Alice wrote on her blog that cancer was gaining on her, the teen tirelessly campaigned to increase the number of potential bone marrow donors. Thousands registered as donors thanks to her push, which was the final task completed on a bucket list that captured the world’s attention.
Vicky Pyne recalled that Friday as she now waits for her necklace to arrive.
"I'd like to think somebody was looking out for us and they knew how important that necklace was between Alice and I. It means the world," she said.