East Northport man finds lost wedding rings, tracks down owner

Michael Cogan, 66, a retired FDNY firefighter found

Michael Cogan, 66, a retired FDNY firefighter found an engagement ring and a wedding ring belonging to the same person while walking on the beach with his metal detector. Cogan, pictured in his East Northport home, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, located the owner of the rings with a Facebook post. (Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

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The best thing Michael Cogan usually finds when he's out with his metal detector is a gold earring, or some coins.

But while scanning for treasures in the sand at Robert Moses State Park on Aug. 6, the retired New York City firefighter stumbled on a pair of treasures: a platinum engagement ring with a 1.3-carat diamond, and a platinum wedding band studded with diamonds.

Cogan, 66, of East Northport, said he was astonished when a jeweler appraised the engagement ring at $13,600. He fantasized about what he could buy with the money, but then he thought about the woman who lost the rings.

"I kept saying to myself, my God, how did she feel when she realized?" he said Friday.

That woman, Erin Carrozzo, a 41-year-old mom from Flushing, Queens, was ecstatic to learn Thursday that her rings had been found.

A Facebook friend alerted her to a photo of the wedding band, originally posted by Cogan earlier that day and shared by hundreds of people in a social media ripple effect.

"I was like, oh my God, that does look like my ring!" Carrozzo said.

Carrozzo said she was with her three kids at Robert Moses on Aug. 4 and took off her rings to slather on some suntan lotion. Distracted when she had to chase down her 3-year-old boy on the beach, she forgot to put them back on.

When she and her kids returned to their car, she noticed the rings were gone.

She reported them missing -- and cried the whole way home.

"I felt like all the blood drained out of my head," she said. "That's the only way I could describe it."

After Cogan made his twin early morning discoveries -- a few feet apart -- he was so excited he called his wife.

"The sun is coming up, and you wake her up and tell her the news," he recalled.

But he wound up spending days searching for the rings' owner by asking at the beach and posting photos on Craigslist. Then he posted the picture on Facebook, asking his friends to share. Through friends of friends, the photo made its way to Carrozzo, who was on vacation in Virginia.

When Carrozzo called him, Cogan was able to confirm she was the owner by an engraving on the inside of the band -- she and her husband's initials and their wedding date, March 19, 2004. He didn't immediately reveal that he also had the far more valuable engagement ring.

"I was playing with her a little bit; I was having some fun," Cogan admitted with a laugh.

Carrozzo now calls him an angel. The two are planning to meet sometime next week when she gets back -- maybe at Cogan's metal detector club meeting.

"This man hit the jackpot, and he chose to hunt me down," she said. "And I can't thank him enough."

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