Hannah Austin of Colorado Springs was eating lunch with her family at a Lake Travis restaurant Sunday afternoon when it happened: her husband, Chris Austin, accidentally knocked the wedding ring she had removed to eat a hamburger off the table.
It flipped right into a crack in the outdoor deck of the restaurant, the Gnarly Gar, and went straight into the murky water.
“I was terrified and felt stupid for taking my ring off over a lake,” said Hannah Austin in a phone interview from Colorado on Thursday. The ring was irreplaceable because it was custom-made with diamonds in it from her mother’s wedding ring and her great-grandmother’s engagement ring, she said.
Restaurant staff pulled up boards to look for it but had no luck, said Jermaine Andrews, a manager at the Gnarly Gar, at 18200 Lakepoint Cove in the Point Venture community.
Then they suggested the Austins call a scuba diver.
Robert Weiss, the owner of Lake Travis Scuba and a teacher for Nitro Swimming arrived a short time after Chris Austin contacted him. He dropped a line through the crack where the ring had disappeared and extended it about 74 feet to the bottom of the lake before he dove in.
“It was completely black down there so I used a light and searched around the area but the ring wasn’t there,” said Weiss on Thursday.
Then he began swimming in a broader circle around where he thought the ring was. “On my third pass I saw something sitting in the mud and I reached in, and there it was,” he said. It took him about 10 minutes to find the ring, Weiss said.
Hannah Austin said when he emerged from the water holding the ring she fell to the ground. “I thought there was a 90 percent chance it had got eaten by a fish or just drifted away,” she said.
“It was kind of like this miracle moment,” said Chris Austin, who now added that he and his wife got insurance on the ring after Weiss found it.
Weiss said he finds lost items frequently on the bottom of Lake Travis because it’s rocky, so stuff doesn’t get completely hidden by mud.
“About three months ago I recovered a lady’s $11,000 wedding ring,” he said.
Hannah Austin said she paid $175 to Weiss for the dive on Sunday.
“The ring was priceless,” she said.