It was her 32nd birthday, and per tradition, Ariel Rigney organized a birthday tubing trip down the Clackamas River in Oregon.
Rigney has used a prosthetic leg since she was a teenager. According to KGW-TV, her right leg was amputated below the knee after she was involved in a car crash, but she finds plenty of ways to stay active.
The birthday girl had strapped her prosthetic to the float and secured it with a bungee cord. But at the beginning of the trip, Rigney watched in disbelief as they went over a bump, causing the leg to shake loose and drift away.
“My 3rd annual birthday river float on Saturday turned tragic about 15 minutes after hitting the river — my prosthetic leg went overboard,” Rigney wrote on Facebook. “Horrified, I watched helplessly as it sunk into the Clackamas River.”
“A valiant effort was made by all with me to try and recover it, but after about 10 minutes I called off the search, knowing it was futile.”
But Rigney refused to let the loss ruin her birthday. She continued down the river and enjoyed the day with her friends, knowing that ultimately, the prosthetic could be replaced.
The next day, a snorkeler named Eric Gantner was exploring the Clackamas River when he found the prosthetic leg.
He realized right away that he had something of importance, thinking to himself, “somebody had a really bad day.”
On a whim, Gantner checked Facebook for any information that might lead to the leg’s owner.
Sure enough, Gantner saw a post from the Oregon Scuba Club, along with a photo of the missing leg.
He contacted the poster right away, and eventually he and Rigney agreed to meet up to exchange the leg and have a drink.
Gantner was eager to hear the story of how Rigney had lost her leg, and she was happy to tell it.
“It was nice,” Rigney said of meeting Gantner. “I’m really glad he was willing to sit and chat and hang out, as opposed to just, ‘Here’s the leg, OK, bye.”
Rigney can only laugh about the misadventure, thankful that everything worked out the way it did.
“As I sit here and recount this story to you all, I still can’t stop giggling with gratitude, shock, and joy at the ridiculousness that is my life,” she wrote. “I’m blown away that my leg has been safely returned to me, intact & undamaged… despite spending one night at the bottom of the Clackamas River.”
“My new hero saved me potentially thousands of dollars, hours of work, and the physical pain/hassle of getting a new one made,” Rigney said.
She said that during next year’s river trip, her leg will go inside a dry bag, equipped with its very own life jacket.
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