AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) – When Hannah Austin removed her wedding ring, it was only supposed to be for a short moment. She was sitting at Lake Travis’ Gnarly Gar with her husband Chris and other family members during Thanksgiving weekend for a meal.
“Typically when I eat burgers, I take off my wedding ring because burgers are messy,” Austin said.
But the ring accidentally fell into the depths of Lake Travis through a small crack between two floorboards.
The couple, who was visiting from Colorado, wondered how they would ever recover the ring.
“It’s a very special ring,” Austin said. “Diamonds in the family – it was specially made and designed, so really one of a kind. You can’t just go to Zales and pick up another one of these.”
Austin says people working at Gnarly Gar helped as soon as they realized what happened.
“Several of them came out and they were bringing out their power drills,” she said.
“Our immediate response was to pull up some of the boards nearest to where we think it might have landed on those, but when we got down there, we realized it was at the only spot that’s not covered,” Jermaine Andrews, general manager of Gnarly Gar said. “It fell straight through to the water instead of hitting the dock.”
The restaurant staff then called Robert Weiss with Lake Travis Scuba. He and his team are constantly in the murky waters of Lake Travis assisting with trash cleanups as well as when law enforcement needs their help searching for missing swimmers.
“Seventy-five feet – it has a lot of area to kind of wiggle its way down,” Weiss said. “You know it’s a hard object. It’s going to drop pretty straight. If it’s not right in that quick vicinity, then it’s the matter of, okay, we’ve got to look around. It fell where you could see it.”
Weiss said he found the ring about 10 minutes into the dive. He used a light underwater. He says starting at around 60 feet into the water, divers lose ambient light.
“It was beyond my expectations,” Weiss said. “I thought it would take longer than that.”
Andrews remembers the moment Austin got her ring back.
“The screams were just all over the restaurant,” he said.
Austin says she will never remove her wedding ring again, no matter how messy her meal gets.
“The Gar’s staff did everything they could to help recover the ring,” Rhonda Rogers Garner said about the effort to find her daughter’s wedding ring. “The staff were amazing and so kind to allow us to stay for four hours while waiting for the ring to be recovered.”
Last month, another diver with Lake Travis Scuba came across a wedding ring that settled on a rock ledge in Lake Travis. While there was an engraving on the ring, Aaron Grigsby still had to spend some time on the internet to find who the ring’s rightful owner was. After Googling various possible names and cross-referencing with wedding websites, Grigsby found the owner.