Central Florida treasure hunters strike it rich

Gold could amount to $350,000


FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Some Central Florida treasure hunters are back on the mainland after striking it rich.

The Schmitt family has uncovered gold off the coast of Fort Pierce that could be worth $350,000.

"This is the most successful hunt we've ever made," said Captain Eric Schmitt.

The family lives in Sanford and told Local 6 they've been spending every day this summer on their boat searching for gold.

Diver Dale Zeak said he found the first piece of gold in 15 feet of water.

"As I was reaching to grab, I found another one six inches away," said Zeak. "Then I saw three piles of gold chains."

Zeak and the Schmitt family found three pounds of thin gold chains, five gold coins and a gold ring.

"I went down and the whole bottom was covered in gold," said Schmitt. "Eight gold chains and all of these gold coins, they were laying all over the bottom. It was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen."

The Schmitts have made their treasure hunting a family affair for the past 13 years, spending their weekends aboard their boat hoping to get lucky.

The family says the gold is more than 300 years old and came from a fleet of Spanish ships, most of them destroyed by a hurricane in 1715.

Schmitt said the state of Florida will get 20 percent of the gold first, and then the rest will be split evenly between the crew and the company that owns the rights to dive in the wreckage site.

"I'm happy as hell to find it. I don't care if I got 1 percent of it. Finding it is 90 percent of it for me," said Schmitt.

The gold will go to an undisclosed lab where it will be photographed, cataloged and registered with the state of Florida.