Tags: family | finds | gold | salvaging

Family Finds Gold While Salvaging Sunken Spanish Convoy

By Alexandra Ward   |   Wednesday, 04 Sep 2013 07:42 AM

A Florida family struck it rich over the weekend when they found a jackpot of gold coins and chains worth an estimated $300,000 off the coast of Fort Pierce.

The Schmitt family, along with friend and diver Dale Zeak, found 64 feet of thin gold chain, five gold coins, and a gold ring buried about 150 feet off the coastline and 15 feet underground, tucked within the ruins of a shipwreck three centuries old.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, the gold was reportedly aboard a convoy of 11 Spanish ships that went down in 1715 after a hurricane, killing more than 1,000 people on board. The Schmitts own Booty Salvage, a subcontractor of 1715 Fleet — Queens Jewels LLC, the company that owns the rights to dive on the wreckage.

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According to the ships' manifests, $400 million worth of loot was on board and so far only $175 million has been found.

"This is like the end of a dream," said 65-year-old Rick Schmitt, who dives for treasure along with his wife Lisa and adult children, Hillary and Eric.

"What's really neat about the [Schmitt family] is they are a family, they spend family time together out there and the most amazing part about them is they always believed this day would come," Brent Brisben, who owns 1715 Fleet, told reporters.

In accordance with U.S. and Florida law, the treasure will be taken into custody by the U.S. District Court in South Florida. The state of Florida will then be allowed to possess up to 20 percent of the find to put on display in a state-run museum. The remainder of the gold will be split evenly between Brisben's company and the Schmitt family, according to Fox News.

For the Schmitts though, the find is about more than money.

"The greatest treasure is time with the family," said Lisa Schmitt.

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