Treasure Coast treasure hunters find class ring stolen 40 years ago

VERO BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A discovery at the bottom of sea off the Treasure Coast is bringing back some big memories for a man who lost a personal treasure decades ago.

The find occurred Monday just off of Vero Beach, offering even more proof that it is called the Treasure Coast for a reason. "We find everything you could possibly imagine," said Brent Brisben, who owns a local shipwreck salvage company.

Brisben and a team of divers look for buried treasure, and they have found a lot of it, in what remains of 11 Spanish ships that sank in along Indian River County waters 300 years ago.

Recently, the divers discovered a different kind of treasure inside the wreckage of one of the vessels. "We started finding some silver coins, some artifacts from the shipwreck, and we come up with a class ring," said Brisben.

One diver located a gold class ring in seemingly good condition.

After some research, Brisben determined the ring was from 1972 and Maury High School in Norfolk, Virginia. The letters 'PLL' were inscribed inside the band. "I've got to find this guy," said Brisben. "There was just no doubt in my mind. I had to find this guy, and if he was alive, I was getting this ring back to him," he said.

Brisben called Maury High School. A secretary put him in touch with an alumni group, and, in less than a few hours, Brisben was on the phone with a man named 'Rocky' who lives in Denver, Colorado. "Definitely, put it behind me," said Rocky from Denver. "It was out of sight, out of mind, until I got the phone call."

Rocky said it was in 1975 near Miami, where he lived at the time, when he last saw his beloved class ring. His apartment, he said, was robbed. "Everything was boxed up, so really didn't have an indication of what was taken," he said. "I just know the ring was gone."

Somehow, the ring ended up in the Atlantic Ocean in the churning surf and sand all this time. "Apparently, found it in a 300-year-old frigate, and I had no idea how it got there."

'Rocky' is a nickname he has had since childhood he said. His real name is Percival Leonard Longworth. His initials are what he had inscribed inside that class ring four decades ago. "It's a ring I really never thought I'd see again," he said.

The treasure hunters are in the process of shipping that ring to Denver; meanwhile, Rocky said, he just hopes it still fits on his finger after all these years.

Brisben's company, 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels, LLC , purchased the salvage rights to the sunken ships. The Treasure Coast was named as such because of the bounty within those and other vessels.

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