Diver Brian Tovin found something shiny and surprisingly sentimental in South Carolina’s Cooper River last month.
In 40 feet of murky water, where Tovin had only three feet of visibility, he spotted a class ring that was lost 38 years ago, The Post Courier Reports.
"Without even shining my light on it, it was clear that it has weight to it, and it was metal or gold," Tovin told WPTV. "And when I shined my light on it, I said, wow, this is the first time I've ever found jewelry underneath the water."
The ring was engraved with the letters RLP, the date 1974 and the name of a nearby school College of Charleston. Armed with these clues alone, Tovin set out to find the ring’s owner.
He called the college’s alumni association and found a graduate with matching initials: Robert LeVaughn Phillips. Using social media, Tovin found Philip’s son, Eric, who had heard about the long lost ring.
"My dad was a storyteller, kind of a used-car salesman at times," Eric Phillips said. "He kind of has some of the same jokes, but he talked about the ring all the time because it came from his mother, and you know it's just one of the stories that just epitomized a season of his life."
Philips said his father lost the ring in the river in 1974 when he was boating with his wife, Nancy. The ring was the last gift his mother gave him before she died from pancreatic cancer.
When Tovin returned the ring to its rightful owner, Philips was surprised and grateful. "Thank you Lord that I got it back," he said.
"I was on the back of the boat. And I decided I needed a beer," Robert Phillips said. "I pulled the pop top and when I did, my finger got caught in the pop top, and it went with it."
Now, Philips promises to keep the ring safe. "No more beer cans," he said.