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Florida Python Hunter, Mark Rubinstein Finds Gold Pendant in Everglades

Jewelry Found During Python Hunt

Mark Rubinstein was one of many who signed up for Florida's Burmese python hunt last year. Just like the others, he went in and out of the Everglades without ever seeing the invasive snake. It was something else that he found instead.

Mark Rubinstein stumbled upon another kind of prize. "It was just a glint in the late day's sun," Rubinstein said. "It kind of just glinted at me. It looked like it didn't belong."

Rubinstein discovered a partially melted, antique gold pendant with sapphires forming a cross inside a circle of diamonds buried in the dirt near two plane crash sites: the ValuJet Flight 592 crash of 1996 and the Eastern Airlines Flight 401 crash of 1972.

"When I talked to the other two guys I was out there with, we all kind of made the same expression which was like, 'We got to get this back to somebody and maybe we can bring a little happiness to somebody that's had some very bad sorrow,'" Rubinstein said told NBC Miami.

Rubinstein took the pendant to Robert Moorman, owner of Carroll's Jewelers in Fort Lauderdale. Moorman recognized the religious symbolism in the piece, and determined it was handmade from 18- or 22-carat gold, probably in the 1800s or late 1700s.

"The three emblems on the pendant are religious," Moorman said. "One is a cross, another is an 'M' for the Virgin Mary and the third, three leaves, stands for the Trinity."

Its estimated to be valued at $150, but that's not the point. It's the sentimental value that is much greater. "This was probably specifically made for one person," Moorman said.

All 104 passengers and five crew members aboard the ValuJet flight died. The flight was headed to Atlanta and caught fire shortly after takeoff and plummeted into the remote swamps west of Miami.

The Eastern flight 401 carried 163 passengers and 13 crew members. Seventy-seven people survived, thanks to a Homestead man who was catching frogs from his airboat that night. He pulled survivors onto his airboat and turned his headlamp skyward so rescue helicopters could find the crash.

Man Hunting for Pythons Finds Mysterious Jewelry

In the middle of the Florida Everglades, something gold in the murky swamp caught the attention of Mark Rubinstein. Experts say he may have found something to belonged to someone on one of two planes that crashed in the area decades ago.

Related Stories:

Florida Opens Python Hunting Challenge to Help Burmese Python Problem
Florida Python Hunt: 21 Burmese Pythons Caught so Far in 2013 Challenge
Largest Burmese Python Caught in Florida by Jason Leon, Measuring 18-foot-8-inches

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