Uncle-nephew scuba team pulls valuables from Michigan lakes

Alyssa Keown
Battle Creek Enquirer

Battle Creek — Matt Hunt of Battle Creek realized his dream at age 9 on a trip to Grand Marais, Michigan with his father.

His dad, Rocky Hunt, a seasoned scuba diver, dove deep into Lake Superior and emerged with a long-lost dry box.

Inside, they found a machete they believed to be from the Vietnam era.

“When you’re a kid, it looks like your dad is bringing up a treasure chest,” Hunt said. “It was shortly after that I was like, I gotta do this and see what’s under there.”

A passion for scuba runs in Hunt’s family, the Battle Creek Enquirer reports. One of his closest diving companions today is his uncle on his mother’s side, Andy Erard.

On their dives, the uncle and nephew discover sunglasses, rings, watches and other objects of sentimental value lost to the water. Five years ago, they decided to help people recover those lost valuables, founding Black Water Recovery Divers.

“We’ve been diving a long time and we found there’s a need — people lose stuff all the time,” Erard said. “We learn every time we go out. What works for us, what doesn’t work.”

To start, Hunt and Erard’s clients point them in the general direction of where they’ve lost an item. The divers drop anchor at a center point and extend a reel marked in 25-foot increments to keep track of where they’ve already swept with their metal detectors.

The searches can take anywhere from five minutes to several hours.

“The best thing for anybody that loses anything on the water (to do) is to mark it on a GPS, mark it on their phone if they have Google Maps or anything like that, and then try to get a line of sight reference between a couple different places,” Hunt explained. “It’s very difficult to find things without a point of reference.”

Kevin Shettler of Brighton was shocked when the divers recovered his lost wedding ring from a mucky pond in Rives Junction.

“I was very surprised because it’s a very murky, nasty pond,” Shettler said. “It was actually a bet for me to swim through it.”

Matt Hunt and Andy Erard dive around the state to recover items, like this ring which was found White Lakes, Kalamazoo

Shettler had lost weight and the ring didn’t fit him the way it used to, so it slid off his fingers. Black Water Recovery found it in an hour and 15 minutes.

“They were punctual, they were very upfront and honest, their pricing was good,” Shettler said. “They were really confident that they could find it and you could tell that they’re passionate about diving and recovering stuff. It’s like their passion is doing this service for people.”

The duo runs their business out of Ceresco and travel across Michigan on various jobs beyond dive recovery, such as turning over capsized boats.

“Not often do you see a boat completely flipped upside down in the middle of the lake, but who’s going to go do it?” Erard said. “Who’re you going to call when something like that happens?”

One of their most memorable recoveries to date was this February, when they retrieved a Kawasaki UTV that fell through the ice on Cedar Lake. Hunt documented the job with his GoPro for their YouTube channel.

Erard and Hunt find adventure in each dive, but it’s not just about business for the duo. Last summer, they went on a quest for ancient megalodon teeth in Wilmington Beach, North Carolina.

“You would go down (80 feet) and dive, and in the sand you’d start seeing triangles and they were 20 million-year-old megalodon teeth just laying around on the bottom,” Hunt said.