Seth Dixon literally took the plunge last Saturday evening when, in an attempt to ask Ruth Salas to marry him on the bridge over Kansas City’s Loose Park pond, he bent on one knee and — oops! — fumbled his $3,000 diamond engagement ring.
That moment, caught on a friend’s video showing the ring bouncing twice before falling into the pond through the bridge’s wood slats, went viral and snagged headlines as far away as Australia. It has gotten nearly 7 million views and their tale became part of Jimmy Fallon’s monologue on “The Tonight Show.”
Dixon, an Uber driver from Warrensburg, couldn’t find the ring despite going into chest-deep water. Nor could about a dozen church friends who also plunged in the next day.
Early Saturday morning, and unbeknownst to the the couple, four Kansas City scuba divers, toting wetsuits, dry suits, face masks and with single air tanks slung over their shoulders, gathered at the south end of the pond in hopes of retrieving the ring for the couple.
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“I saw the story and thought, ‘We can go find that,’” said Michael Brock, 60, a software engineer who has been diving since age 15 and is an instructor at the Dive Shop, 7300 W. Frontage Road, Merriam. “I felt bad for the guy. We were up for a challenge.”
Kansas City parks officials granted the volunteers permission.
“They don’t want a whole lot of people down here treasure hunting,” Brock said. “Hopefully we find it and make a lot of people happy.”
Brock was joined by divers Brad Dickson, 51, of Merriam, Jessica Whitney, 35, of Shawnee, and Brooke Mori, 41 of St. Joseph. But Brock initially went into the water alone, just after 9 a.m.
Dickson said the odds of finding the ring were slim.
“Very low,” he said, although he said he once found lost car keys dropped into deep silt. The key to finding items in black water is for people to not to disturb or stomp around on the bottom of the lake, he said. That way divers are often able to find small items by feeling around with their hands.
But last Sunday, about a dozen of Dixon’s and Salas’ church friends waded into the water, walking in the pond beneath the bridge, to search for the ring.
The loss certainly created quite a stir in the past week for the engaged couple, who are slated to be married in late October.
“It’s just honestly been mind-blowing,” Salas said by telephone. “Never in a million years did we think this would happen.”
The Star itself was contacted by numerous individuals. Some offered to help the couple search for their ring. Jewelers offered to make them a replacement. One man left a message offering to give the couple an engagement ring of his own, which he said never was used.
Dixon’s Facebook page shows their story appearing on numerous news shows, including ABC’s “World News Now,” and on the “Fox & Friends” morning program. The couple were flown out to Los Angeles to appear on television.
“We’re going to be on ‘20/20,’” Salas said as they left for California.
But the couple also received a heavy dose of doubt, with many people online questioning whether their video was real or a hoax to coax money out of individuals sympathetic to their loss.
The couple had established a gofundme page to raise money for the ring, even prior to when their story was reported. They suspended the page only a few days later with less than $300 raised, as the story brought both negative and positive comments.
The couple insist the loss of their ring is real but suspended the page nonetheless.
“We know there are people out there who are in worse situations than we are,” Salas said, “with the hurricanes and the wildfires and other disasters out there. We want to make sure we are doing things in a positive way.”
At 9:45 a.m. Saturday, Brock came up from the water.
“Visibility is about 4 inches,” he said. He held a flashlight and a tiny toy lion in his hand. Brock anticipated that they would either find the ring quickly, or it would likely take a long time.
“Anyone else want to try?” he said.
Jessica Whitney suited up.
The divers searched for hours. No luck.