Husband recovers ring lost at sea

A ring in the ocean caused quite a commotion when it slipped off the finger of the husband of a New York couple on their first trip to Cayman. 

“I was heartbroken … it was a sense of dread,” said Steven Koller, who had given up all hopes of ever seeing the ring that he lost during a snorkeling trip to Cayman Barrier Reef on Tuesday afternoon. 

Married for 24 years, Mr. Koller, 56, and his wife Gail, 57, arrived on island last Sunday. 

“It was like a second honeymoon for us because it was the first real vacation we have taken since our first child Benjamin was born,” Mr. Koller said. 

The Kollers have three children, Benjamin, 22, and twins Joshua and Daniella, 19. 

The couple came to Cayman to attend a friend’s daughter’s wedding, and they planned an itinerary of fun activities, including snorkeling, to enjoy as much of the island as they could while here. 

The day began with the couple driving to Governors Harbour, Raleigh Quay. They were greeted by Captain Marvin’s water sports boat captain Jerry Ebanks and two other crew members. 

After a short lecture on what they would be doing and where they would be going, the Kollers, along with 25 other passengers, set out to sea on the boat Jimmy. 

Their first stop was at Stingray City sandbar, where the Kollers held and kissed the rays. A stingray kiss is said to bring seven years’ good luck. 

However it did not seem as if the promised luck was holding, as they moved on to their next stop, the Barrier Reef, where Mr. Koller lost his ring. 

“I must have been in the water snorkeling for about 10 minutes or so, and when I headed back to the boat, I discovered my wedding ring had slipped off my finger at some point,” Mr. Koller said. 

He was heartbroken. 

“When I told my wife on the boat, she comforted me and told me, she knew I was upset, but [the ring] is just a thing,” Mr. Koller said. “She said it was replaceable, and I would be OK, but I did not feel so.” 

Some moments later, Captain Ebanks learned that Mr. Koller had lost his ring. Mr. Ebanks immediately put on his snorkeling gear and fins and jumped into the water to look for it. The boat crew and some other passengers jumped in behind him. 

For the next five to 10 minutes, Mr. Koller waited with his wife in anticipation. The rest of the passengers waiting with them on the boat could only watch and pray it would be found, he said. 

“I was not holding out much hope. I thought it was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Mr. Koller said. “All of a sudden, I saw Jerry, like a bird diving down after a fish, head to the bottom of the ocean. I knew he had seen something but I could not believe he actually saw it.” 

Mr. Koller held his breath, hoping the captain had found the ring. About 15 seconds later, he saw Mr. Ebanks surface with his hand in the air. He was holding the ring. 

“Everyone on the boat was amazed and started cheering. When he came back to the boat, I gave him a big hug and a kiss,” Mr. Koller said. 

Mr. Ebanks said that after looking around for a few minutes, he spotted something shiny at the bottom of the ocean. “I knew exactly what it was and dove back down for it,” he said. 

Mr. Koller was so relieved at finding the ring that he did not put it back on his finger for fear it would come off again. Instead, he gave it to his wife for safekeeping. 

Mrs. Koller said her husband had looked so incredibly upset when he came out of the water, all he could do was hold up his hand for her to see the ring was missing. “All I could say was, ‘it’s just a thing, and it is replaceable,’” she said. 

When they found the ring, Mrs. Koller said she was shocked and thrilled. “I just could not believe they had found it. Everyone on the boat was so excited and happy.” 

The ring was a one-of-a-kind piece. During a craft fair in Tarrytown, New York, the Kollers met a man who made jewelry, and they loved the work he had on display. So they commissioned the jeweler to make specially designed wedding bands for their big day. 

“It’s a relatively plain gold ring, but on the outside we have wavy lines engraved on it which reminds us of water. Maybe it was fate for this to happen,” Mr. Koller said. 

“It was almost a miracle that I got the ring back, and I can only say it must be the power of the love that helped bring it back to us,” he added. 

The Kollers
The Kollers’ wedding bands were specially designed for them by a jeweler in New York. The wavy lines on the rings represent water. – PHOTO: JEWEL LEVY

Steven Koller, second from right, with Jerry Ebanks, who found the ring. Crew members Eric Andrade, left, and Polo Nunez, right, celebrate with them.

Steven Koller, second from right, with Jerry Ebanks, who found the ring. Crew members Eric Andrade, left, and Polo Nunez, right, celebrate with them.

Gail and Steve Koller were still smiling the next day over the recovery of Mr. Koller

Gail and Steve Koller were still smiling the next day over the recovery of Mr. Koller’s wedding ring. – PHOTO: JEWEL LEVY


  1. This is amazing. I have heard on many occasions of Hundreds of rings having been lost at sea in the Cayman waters, but none being recovered. Mysteriously the sea just loves things that glisten, and usually never give them back up. Just a few years ago a visitor went fishing off Frank Sound reef and lost his Ruby, emerald diamond bracelet valued over fifty thousand dollars.
    In Cayman Old folks would say, it is bad luck to loose your wedding ring in the seas.
    Mr & Mrs Koller, I say congratulations, you are one lucky couple.

  2. How touching and wonderful that a Caymanian Captain even tried to do something so special. As anyone knows when something so small drops in the sea through the sand it is almost impossible to find it again. To even look for it was part of the Caymankind we have been known for. Thank you Captain Ebanks for doing something special on behalf of our people who visit the Cayman Islands.


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