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Long lost ring reunited with dying owner 39 years later

10:44 AM, Sep 19, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA (WXIA) -- "It's like a different world." The Cooper River in South Carolina beckons treasure hunters willing to plumb its inky depths.

"You have almost no visibility until you get to the bottom and then you use these strong lights," said Brian Tovin.

Tovin is one of those hunters, and his unusual treasures were discovered along the river's floor.

He has ancient shark teeth, horse teeth, camel teeth, whale bones, pipes from colonial times, pottery from the 1700's and 1800's, and glass bottles.

His latest find was unlike any other. It was just a circle in the sand. It was a college ring. From 1974. From the College of Charleston.

"We looked at inside and sure enough the initials were still in the ring," he said.

Tovin contacted the college and learned two people graduated in 1974 with the initials RLP. One was a woman. The other was Robert L. Phillips.

Tovin found Phillips' son on social media -- and that's when he learned Phillips lost the ring 39 years ago, just two weeks after college, out boating with his wife-to-be. He was devastated. It was a final gift from his mother who died from cancer. Now Phillips is battling cancer. He doesn't have much time left.

Tovin flew to Charleston to reunite the ring with its rightful owner.

Crying as he received his ring, Phillips quietly said, "I thank the Lord that I got it back."

They are river bottom discoveries that wait in the blackness, sometimes for millions of years. Thanks to one man, one treasure made it home, just in time.

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