Dying man's lost college ring found 39 years later

    7:45 AM, Sep 18, 2013   |    comments
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    UNDATED (CNN) -- A dark river in South Carolina holds ancient secrets. Scuba divers like Brian Tovin come to uncover long lost treasures, but he had no idea this river would send him on an unforgettable journey.

    Tovin says, "This was filled with gravel, and I was just looking at the periphery of the ring."

    Three weeks ago, Tovin found the most priceless treasure of all hidden 40 feet under water in a gravel bed; a 1974 College of Charleston class ring with the initials RLP engraved on the inside. Tovin says, "And we said let's do some investigating. Let's follow this path and see where it leads us."

    Tovin set out find the mystery, College of Charleston graduate with the initials RLP. When he called the school he was told only two people in that graduating class had those initials; one was a woman the other was Robert LeVaughn Phillips.

    Through social networks, Tovin found Phillips' son and learned just how special the ring is. His son Eric Phillips says, "He talked about it all the time because it came from his mother. And you know it's just one of those stories that epitomized a season of his life."
    It was 1974, Robert Phillips and his future wife decided to come out here to spend the day on the cooper river near Charleston, South Carolina. They're out on a boat and Phillips reached for a beer. He pops open the tab and it gets stuck on his finger. When he tries to fling the tab off, the ring flies off his finger.

    It sank to the bottom of that river. Robert Phillips never got over losing that ring as it was the last gift his mother ever gave him; she died of cancer years later which makes this moment all the more profound.

    Thirty-nine years later, Robert Phillips is now dying of cancer and he doesn't have long to live. Brian Tovin made it just in time.

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