Diver Recovers 'Priceless' Engagement Ring From the Murky Depths of Lake Travis in Texas

A juicy hamburger served at the Gnarly Gar floating restaurant on Lake Travis in Texas nearly cost Hannah Austin her engagement ring last Sunday. The Colorado Springs native was enjoying a casual lunch with her family at the open-air eatery near Austin when she took off her "priceless" family heirloom and rested it on the table so it wouldn't get messy.

A moment later the unthinkable happened. Her husband, Chris, accidentally knocked the ring off the table and it disappeared through a gap in the decking.

When staffers of the Gnarly Gar removed a few planks to get a better view of where the ring may have landed, they realized that it narrowly missed the dock below and, instead, plopped directly into the lake.

“I was terrified and felt stupid for taking my ring off over a lake,” Hannah Austin told the Austin American-Statesman.

She added that the ring was "priceless" and "irreplaceable" because it was custom made with diamonds from her mother’s wedding ring and her great-grandmother’s engagement ring.

Restaurant staffers recommended that the Austins enlist the help of Robert Weiss, owner of Lake Travis Scuba. Just this year, Weiss and his team have recovered more than $100,000 worth of lost items, including pricey cell phones, sunglasses and jewelry.

When Weiss arrived on the scene, his first task was to drop a weighted line through the decking and into the lake. Because the ring is a solid, relatively heavy object, it should have descended straight to the bottom. Weiss dove into the lake and followed the line about 60 feet before it got so dark that he needed to use his search light. At this point, his visibility was only about five feet.

Weiss touched bottom at exactly 74 feet and started a search in ever-widening circles around the downline marker.

“On my third pass I saw something sitting in the mud and I reached in, and there it was,” he told the Austin American-Statesman.

It took him only 10 minutes to find the ring.

The astounding video, below, shows underwater footage of Weiss' impressive discovery, as well as his slow ascent to the surface, where he reunites the ring with an overwhelmed Hannah Austin.

"Hannah was overjoyed to be reunited with her wedding ring," Weiss said. "She fell to her knees crying."

“I thought there was a 90 percent chance it had got eaten by a fish or just drifted away,” said Hannah Austin.

“It was kind of like this miracle moment,” added Chris Austin.

The Austins of Colorado now have a wild story to tell about their trip to Lake Travis, which happens to be 22 miles from the capital city of Austin.

Hannah Austin also told local NBC-affiliate KXAN that she will never remove her engagement ring again, no matter how messy her meal gets.

Credits: Images courtesy of Robert Weiss, Lake Travis Scuba.

Howard Cohen