It was about 4 a.m. Sunday, as Samantha “Sam” LaRochelle lay in a hospital bed, when she noticed her beloved and irreplaceable necklace wasn’t on her.
She figured her wife, Audrey LaRochelle, had it and closed her eyes.
Panic set in when she was discharged a couple of hours later.
No one had the necklace.
“This thing means more to me than the world,” said Sam LaRochelle, of Lopatcong Township.
On Wednesday, she was reunited with the prized dual-pendant, custom-chain possession — thanks to persistence and no small measure of sympathy on the part of a Phillipsburg police officer and staff at St. Luke’s Hospital in Phillipsburg, its trash hauler and Covanta Energy Corp.
“They found it and I almost wanted to drop to my knees crying,” she said.
It was an employee named Steve Acierno at the Covanta trash-to-energy plant in Oxford Township who finally pulled the necklace from some 15 tons worth of trash bags searched Wednesday morning. 
“We all picked …