JASPER COUNTY — It was a pleasant Saturday evening in October when Jennie Shafer Fear got the scare of her life.
Fear, who lives near Falmouth in Jasper County, was cruising the back roads of Jasper County on her way home from a shopping trip in Effingham. As many people do while driving in nice weather, she was resting her elbow on the door with her hand out the window.
Then the unthinkable happened. A wedding ring set that had belonged to her late mother flew off her hand and onto the roadway on County Road 400 in Grove Township.
"They flew off just like that," Fear said. The rings were wearing loose now that Fear has lost between 100 and 125 pounds in the past year.
Young Jennie was only 8 years old when mother Laura died of breast cancer in 1996, and the rings were just about the only possessions of her mother's that she still had.
It was dark on the stretch of country road where Fear lost her rings, but she used the flashlight on her cellphone and her car headlights to look for the irreplaceable heirloom for nearly an hour. Two cars drove by without stopping, while a third stopped to make sure she was OK, then drove off.
Husband Everett was on his way with the couple's 3-month-old son in tow when the fourth and fifth cars came toward where the rings had been lost.
One car, filled with six young area residents, stopped. At first, Fear was concerned when they stopped.
"I did my fair share of stupid things when I was younger, and I knew they could have been those type of kids," Fear said.
But they weren't. Not only did the car's occupants stop, but they all came with flashlights. A second car helped by placing the three vehicles in a sort of circle to maximize the area that could be lit.
Then the good Samaritans got to work.
Fear said Cassidy Strohl found the engagement ring on the side of the road. A few minutes later, Tyler Probst found the wedding band and all was well again. Others in the group were Cody Ruholl, Dylan Probst, Melissa Koester and Clayton Apke.
Fear said she was impressed with the maturity level of her good Samaritans.
"They were all so extremely polite and nice," she said. "They were a Godsend."
Koester said her group was just driving along when they saw Fear in the roadway.
"After we talked to her, we knew she wanted to find those rings really bad," Koester said. "I think we just did what we were taught to do when we were little.
"When somebody needs help, you help them."
Dylan Probst said the group was concerned there might be something seriously wrong.
"We didn't know if it was something like a flat tire, or somebody having a heart attack," Dylan said.
Dylan said the group was thrilled to help Fear find her rings. He added they were even more excited when she told the story behind the rings.
"When she told the story about her mother, it made us feel even better," he said.
Now that Fear has her rings back, she plans to change her driving habits.
"No more hands out of the window until I get these rings sized," she said.