Bodies of Lost Divers Recovered from Eagles Nest Sink, Both Experienced Divers
WEEKI WACHEE – Late Saturday night, RNRF began receiving reports of two missing cave divers who disappeared while diving inside Eagles Nest Sink. ORIGINAL REPORT
Officials are now reporting that the bodies of two victims have been recovered from the cave, nearly 24-hours after the doomed dive venture began.
According to reports, deputies responded to the Eagle’s Nest dive area located at 7199 Cortez Boulevard to search for the missing divers, around 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Upon arrival, deputies met with a third diver, Justin Blakely, who advised that his two friends, Patrick Peacock, and Chris Rittenmeyer, traveled from Fort Lauderdale to conduct a three-day dive at Eagles Nest.
All three divers entered the water at 2 p.m. and were supposed to resurface and meet up at 3:00 p.m. Blakely says because he was the least experienced diver, he would stay closer to the surface while Peacock and Rittenmeyer dove to lower depths. The plan was for Peacock and Rittenmeyer to check in with Blakely at a predetermined location at 3 p.m. Blakeley waited, and they did not show up. Blakely went back 30 minutes later, but they still were not there. Blakely checked back every 30 minutes, but the men never resurfaced.
By 6:00 p.m. Blakely contacted the Sheriff’s Office to report the missing divers.
Later that night a group of rescue divers entered the water in an attempt to locate Peacock and Rittenmeyer. Unfortunately, the divers were unsuccessful in their attempts to locate the victims.
At 9:00 a.m. Sunday a new group of rescue divers entered the water, where they located Peacock and Rittenmeyer near one another in 260 feet of water.
Officials say the divers were in a very dangerous and complex area of the cave system.
The bodies were turned over to the Medical Examiner’s Office to conduct autopsies.
Blakely says Peacock and Rittenmeyer were both very experienced divers and had dove Eagles Nest several times before.
WEEKI WACHEE – Officials are investigating the disappearance of two divers at Eagles Nest Sink in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area this morning, and there are unconfirmed reports that both victims may have been found deceased.
The search began last night after RNRF received information that rescue divers were being dispatched to search for two missing individuals. The Sheriff’s Office would not provide further details into the search.
Fire Rescue Officials say they were released early this morning and that investigators with the Sheriff’s Office were still working the scene.
One witness tells RNRF that he assisted with driving one of the victim’s relatives to Eagles Nest Sink just before 3:00 a.m. this morning. We are not releasing the names of the victims at this time.
Eagles Nest Sink is the same cave that claimed the life of a father and son in a 2013, Christmas Day diving trip. The bodies of Darrin Spivey and his son Dillon Sanchez were located at the same day at varying depths. Darrin’s body was discovered at 127’ below the surface and Dillion at just 67’.
We will continue to bring more on this story as it develops.
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