Randy Keil, left, of Oceano, shakes hands with David Skeeters of Costa Mesa, who found the lost engagement ring that Keil was going to give to his girlfried when he proposed to her
It was empty.
The engagement ring was gone.
Keil had landed at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday after a flight from Costa Rica, where he spends half the year. Greeting him was his girlfriend of 17 years, Cissie Bencoma, and her daughter, Ashton Vasquez, who live in San Luis Obispo.
Soon after leaving California this summer, Keil, 48, decided he would ask Bencoma, 43, to marry him when he returned. “I’ve been married in my heart for a long time now,” he said. “I guess it was just time.”
When he shared his plans with his mother, Murrieta resident Jan Holman, she offered him her engagement ring. “I’ve been nagging him to marry this girl for 15 years,” she said.
Keil picked the beach in Newport Beach, his hometown, as the place where he would ask Bencoma to become his wife. On the way there, he convinced Bencoma to stop by the workplace of his sister’s husband, where he was slipped the ring.
Two stops later – one for gas, another to deposit money at a bank – they were parked near the beach. Keil patted his pocket to check the ring was still there. When it wasn’t, he told Bencoma he had lost a credit card and insisted they retrace their steps. They were unsuccessful, but the loss didn’t deter Keil.
He, Bencoma and Vasquez headed to an arcade at the Balboa Fun Zone, where he convinced an employee exchanging goods for game tickets to slip him a plastic prize ring. As the sun set, Keil asked Bencoma to marry him. She said yes, and let Keil slip the small plastic band onto her ring finger.
“I was so excited. I didn’t care what he stuck on my finger,” Bencoma said
After hearing about the ring’s loss, a relative posted a notice on Craigslist offering a reward to the finder.
Multiple scammers promised Keil they had the ring, so when he got a call from the Chase bank branch on 17th Street, he didn’t immediately believe Brad Evans, who told him a customer had found a ring in the bank’s parking lot.
David Skeeters, who with his brother manages the nearby bicycle store Two Wheels One Planet, spotted the ring Wednesday.
Evans organized a rendezvous Saturday in the bank’s lobby. Encircled by grinning employees, Skeeters returned the sparkler to Keil, who shook his hand repeatedly.
Keil credits Skeeters’ honest nature and his family’s prayers to the ring’s return.
“We’re all believers and, bam, look,” he said, pointing at the ring sitting halfway down his pinkie finger.
“How many people would do that?” Holman said of Skeeters’ actions. “I call it a miracle.”