Family Finds Gold off Florida CoastBy: Erika Watts - September 4, 2013
While hunting for treasure might sound like a job more suited for Captain Jack Sparrow, a family in Florida found quite the haul while looking for gold off the coast of Fort Pierce over the weekend. According to the Sun Sentinel, The Schmitt family found gold coins and gold chains that have an estimated value of more than $300,000.
The Schmitt family found the treasure near the Brisben wreckage site approximately 150 yards off the coast. The wreckage site is where the 1715 Treasure Fleet perished in a hurricane that took the lives of 1,000 sailors and left behind an estimated $600 million in gold and other valuables. According to Brent Brisben, co-founder of the company that holds the rights to the wreckage site, treasure is found on a “daily basis.” Gold isn’t the only treasure found, either. “We find shipwreck artifacts, musket balls, pottery,” Brisben said.
The Schmitts have been diving at the wreckage site for years through their company Booty Salvage. While they have found treasure before, including a Spanish silver plate worth around $30,000, this is by far their biggest find. At just 15 feet underwater, the family found 64 feet of gold chain, five gold coins and a gold ring. The value of the treasure has been placed at a conservative estimate of around $300,000.
The find proved to be a very emotional moment for the family. When her brother Eric showed her the gold, 20-year-old Hillary Schmitt said that she “cried like a baby” on the boat. “His pocket was hanging (with gold) about down to the ground…It was an intense moment. We were all just screaming and crying.” Rick Schmitt, father of the treasure-hunting family, said that the find “is like the end of a dream.”
While finding enough gold to pay off your mortgage may certainly feel like a dream, the Schmitts won’t get to keep their entire haul. According to federal and state law, the family will have to turn their find over to the U.S. District Court in South Florida. Florida can keep 20 percent of the find for its museums, and the remaining treasure will be split between the Schmitt family and Brisben’s company, 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels LLC.