The FBI delivered on a promise Monday, giving a woman back the diamond engagement ring that her fiance was carrying when he died in the explosion of TWA Flight 800.
Julie Stuart sobbed when she was given the 1.6-carat diamond ring, immediately opening the box and putting the ring on her finger.
“This is bittersweet,” Stuart, 31, told The Associated Press. “I only wish it was the way it was supposed to be, with Andy placing it on my finger. I miss him so much.”
FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom, who heads the agency’s crash investigation, met Monday with Stuart, her parents and the sister of her fiance, Andrew Krukar, in his office, where he returned the ring.
“I’m glad we could return this very precious memory of their time together,” Kallstrom said. “My heart goes out to her and all the victim’s families all the time, especially during this holiday.”
Stuart and Krukar, 41, had bought the ring in June in Bridgewater, Conn., where they lived. They planned a private engagement ceremony in Paris.
Both were employed by machine manufacturer Torrington Co., he as an engineering manager, she as a human resources manager.
On July 17, Krukar boarded the Paris-bound flight; she was to meet him there two days later. He had tucked the ring, wrapped inside a burgundy-colored box with gold piping and gold clasp, into his briefcase.
A day after the Boeing 747 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island, searchers recovered a ring box floating in the water amid the wreckage.
A week later, a friend of Krukar’s in Paris saw photographs in Paris-Match magazine of items that had been recovered from the wreckage, and he recognized the ring box.
Photos were all that Stuart had. Authorities said the return of the ring and other belongings of Flight 800 victims has been delayed by the criminal investigation into the crash.
Investigators say they still do not know whether a bomb, a missile or a mechanical failure caused the crash, which killed all 230 people on board.
The private moment when Stuart put the ring on her finger followed months of efforts first to locate it, and then to get it back.
“Mr. Kallstrom was the only one who would listen to me,” Stuart said. “He promised I would have the ring before Christmas and he delivered it.”
She said her fiance’s father was home with the flu and he was heartbroken that he could not be there to place the ring on her finger.
She said destiny was fulfilled.
“I know that Andy wanted me to have this ring. That’s why it was found. It was almost like he was reaching out to give it to me.”