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Two Missing After Diving Incident at Eagles Nest Sink, Feared Dead

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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  • cave diving is serious. I have experience and wouldnt attempt eagles nest. Place is beautiful but scary at the same time.

    Tuesday, 18 October 2016, 11:35 pm
  • I should also add that many certified cave divers who visit Eagle’s Nest are also trained in the use of rebreathers. Rebreathers provide added safety benefits allowing divers to remain as long as several hours underwater by recirculating the oxygen while filtering carbon dioxide – the waste product from our exhaled breaths. Trees like it, but it is toxic to humans. When using scuba tanks the diver exhales into the water and nothing is recirculated so we have very limited time when diving deep. Every 34 feet in fresh water is an additional atmosphere of pressure. At 34 feet our tanks last half as long as they would at the surface. At 68 feet 1/3 as long. At 102 feet 1/4 as long. Rebreathers reduce the time pressure divers encounter during deep dives on scuba tanks. Rebreathers also make decompression more efficient because the diver can control the gas content he/she breathes. Higher levels of oxygen in the breathing mixture with reduced levels of nitrogen or helium allow the diver to use oxygen for cellular metabolism while off-gassing the nitrogen or helium which are simply carrier gases for oxygen. Nitrogen and helium act as taxi cabs to carry oxygen then they park in our tissues like cars in a parking garage. As we ascend the taxis have to leave the parking garage slowly enough to not damage our tissues by crashing through them like cars colliding at on the exit ramps. However, rebreathers are sophisticated machines and require great care, maintenance, and attention to detail. I lost a good friend who was used to making 400+ foot deep cave and shipwreck dives on scuba tanks to a rebreather when he simply forgot to turn on his oxygen for a 130 foot dive. Most rebreather fatalities are from “pilot error” and depth often plays a very small role in such fatalities with divers even passing away in swimming pools if they mismanage the unit. The cave diving community has created several Rules of Accident Analysis for cave diving. In the past, there were 5 Rules; 1) Be trained for cave diving. 2) Always run a continuous guideline to open water. 3) Always carry at least 3 lights. 4) Always reserve at least 2/3 of your air/gas supply for exit. 5) Never dive deeper than 130 feet using air. Use trimix below 130 feet. These rules did an excellent job preventing cave diving fatalities. If divers follow these rules accidents are rare. Still, even trained cave divers can die. When the cave diving community looked at why trained cave divers were dying another 5 factors appeared: 1) Age. Many cave divers are older. Cave diving is very expensive and many cave divers are approaching middle age when they have the financial resources and diving experience to cave dive. With age comes a decline in health and physical fitness. 2) Too far. Too fast. It’s very easy for an experienced diver with lots of money to invest in the training and equipment needed for extremely deep or extremely long range cave dives. A diver can meet the rigorous standards for diving skill and progress to rebreathers and diver propulsion vehicles with little experience in caves themselves. It’s up to the individual to decide when he/she is ready for more challenging cave diving. 3) Incorrect gas mixtures. We use lots of different gases at different depths and divers will often simply breathe the wrong gas or fill the tanks with the wrong gas. We have strict protocols for fills and gas switches that may result in fatalities when ignored. 4) Poor equipment maintenance. We have lots of equipment and it is easy to get lazy about caring for it properly. 5) Solo diving. Today, solo diving has become an acceptable practice in the scuba diving community due to training and equipment that allows a diver to have redundant and totally separate air/gas sources and back-up equipment easily carried without adding stress to the diver. The problem is that when a diver dies from any issue such as a health issue, panic, incorrect gas, etc., without a buddy or team an accident is simply labeled a solo diving accident. I’ve made hundreds of solo cave dives myself. While diving with a buddy may seem the safest way to dive, factors such as peer pressure or not ending a dive when you should or when you aren’t comfortable so you don’t ruin it for your friends come into play. Those of us who cave dive have found something in the activity that excites us and makes us feel so blessed to be able to enjoy rarely visited places of incredible beauty. Cave diving can be extremely fun! Yes, it is risky but most cave divers are diligent about reducing risk as much as possible, diving smart, and doing our part in the community to behave responsibly. Yet, every once in a while an accident happens to a diver or divers who are well-trained and experienced. It’s just that cave diving does not have to be done so people often want to ban it. Moire people die on ladders but no one wants to ban cleaning gutters or changing light bulbs.

    Monday, 17 October 2016, 10:57 am
    • Clearly we need more government oversight of ladders and they should only be sold to professionals who undergone rigorous training and certification in ladder climbing so that we can prevent future ladder tragedies.

      Monday, 17 October 2016, 4:46 pm
  • Glade you shared the above Tracy. The last statement says it all.

    Monday, 17 October 2016, 9:40 am
  • Oh lord

    Monday, 17 October 2016, 7:34 am
  • Danger is relative to training and experience. Scuba diving is an activity that is classified as inherently dangerous, yet it is enjoyed by millions of people who have sought training and certification. Just as you need training to scuba dive you need cave training and cave diving certification to cave dive. No matter how much experience a diver may have in open water such as the ocean, lakes, rivers, quarries, or springs it won’t prepare you to safely dive a cave. Overhead environments require special training and unique skills. Shipwreck diving, ice diving, cave diving, mine diving and decompression diving are all considered overhead environments in the diving world. Cave diving is probably the most demanding because it requires the highest quality team-building, buoyancy control, and propulsion techniques. Many entry-level cave divers are already highly experienced recreational divers and many hold instructor or divemaster ratings prior to seeking cave training. Today, most cave divers start off with an intro to technical diving course that teaches students to maintain horizontal trim at all times, control their breathing so they don’t rise or sink more than 1 to 3 feet even during emergencies, and to maneuver like a helicopter hovering perfectly and moving forward, backward, and rotating 360 degrees using various modified fining techniques to not stir up silt or cause damage to fragile cave formations. After this open water training the student is ready to begin the first of 4 cave diving classes by taking a Cavern Diver course. This prepares students to safely dive in the daylight zone of a cave. After cavern training the student progresses to Intro to Cave where he/she is able to dive main passages while reserving 5/6 of the air supply for exit. After intro to cave, students become an Apprentice Cave Diver which allows them to begin to explore side passages while reserving 2/3 of their gas supply for exit. Finally, they are ready to become a fully certified Cave Diver after learning complex navigation. Cave divers are trained to deal with silt-outs and light failures leaving them in the dark and unable to see. They are trained to deal with lost buddy and lost guideline situations. They are trained to safely get home with multiple equipment failures while sharing air in total darkness. But, training for caves doesn’t stop there. If you dive deeper than 100 – 130 feet in caves you need to learn how to perform decompression dives and use a gas called Trimix which contains helium to ward off the narcotic effects of nitrogen on the brain. Because of the depth of Eagle’s Nest any diver entering into the system should be a fully certified cave diver with at least 100 cave dives of experience and be certified to use trimix and various decompression gases. Most properly trained divers who enter Eagle’s Nest have the following certifications beyond recreational diving: Intro to Tech, Cavern Diver, Intro to Cave, Apprentice Cave Diver, Cave Diver, Stage Cave Diver, Diver Propulsion Vehicle for Overhead, Nitrox, Advanced Nitrox, Trimix 1, Trimix 2. Personally, I have awards for over 7,500 lifetime dives, 1,000 cave dives, and I’m a cave diving instructor but I consider Eagle’s Nest to be big dive.

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 11:53 pm
    • Thank you Trace. That was very informative. I wish something of this detail were posted at the entrance deck. I had often wondered the level of instruction required for this Mount Everest of cave diving and why for the number who attempt this cave, why the mortality rate was so high.

      Monday, 17 October 2016, 7:12 am
      • It is posted at the entrance, and there’s a sign underwater at the beginning of the cave .

        Tuesday, 18 October 2016, 6:31 pm
    • Trace,thanks for explaining the intricacies of cave diving & it’s instruction methods. I’ve never been to Eagles Nest nor do I dive due to health problems. However, I appreciate people who can explain the nuances of this activity so “laymen” can understand.

      Monday, 17 October 2016, 7:55 am
    • Thank you for explaining this….. People in the area don’t realize that people come from all over the world to dive that spot. Just hope the country dosent shut it down.. We need a motoring system for that spot to keep people out who are not certified in the cave diving.

      Monday, 17 October 2016, 8:53 am
  • So sorry. I know Anna never got over losing her son.

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 11:32 pm
  • Praying for these families, my nephew was Dillon Sanchez who passed away along with his father on Christmas. Even though there are signs I don’t think people realize the danger

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 8:08 pm
    • Let’s make sure no one else can ever not know the danger! We can help, all of us can make a big difference by educating the general public. There are so many caves and caverns in Fla that every single resident should know what is and isn’t safe. The more wrong some self-christened expert is, the more vehemently he will defend his expertise. That shouldn’t be a problem in the Internet age because it is so easy to check facts: look it up, check uTube, contact the caving (speliological society) or telephone a cave diving shop and ask for the facts.
      Let’s never again allow an unqualified diver to plan a dive like this without his entire family, neighborhood and circle of friends being absolutely up in arms about it. Seriously, this is like some new pilot deciding he’s gonna self-teach himself intrument flying, then practice by purposely flying into a major storm.

      Monday, 17 October 2016, 10:34 am
      • For those not properly trained,… every one of them is not safe. period. For those properly trained,…. the most dangerous part of the dive is the travel to the dive site.

        Tuesday, 18 October 2016, 9:32 pm
  • How heartbreaking. Prayers for the families.

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 6:03 pm
  • Out of curiosity does anyone know if hernando county fire department have a dive rescue team for these types of emergencies?

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 3:24 pm
    • Not for cave diving . And it’s never a rescue in underwater caves. It’s A recovery .

      Sunday, 16 October 2016, 5:38 pm
      • I suppose you are not aware of 3 live rescues, in 2 different occasions, done 2- 3 yrs ago near Marianna?

        Tuesday, 18 October 2016, 9:28 pm
    • I don’t know the answer to that question, but I don’t think it would be a good use of taxpayer money to specially train our first responders for something that rarely happens. There are plenty of experienced, very well trained cave divers in this area that step up and help with rescue in situations like this. It was trained divers that got the people out 3 years ago.
      If amateurs would just stay out of Eagle’s Nest, this wouldn’t even be an issue. I’ve driven out there, there are plenty of warning signs for people to stay out.

      Sunday, 16 October 2016, 5:52 pm
    • The IUCRR (International Underwater Cave Rescue & Recovery team works in conjunction with public safety entities to perform the rescue/ recoveries (Yes, there have been a handful of live rescues). This team is of very capable cave divers (many cave instructors) that have been specially trained to perform these tasks.

      Tuesday, 18 October 2016, 9:27 pm
  • With Some many deaths at the Eagles Nest The past years have claimed way to many young men..
    Why don’t they close this area to the Public Tom???
    Prayers to the Families involved… So Sad !!!

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 3:24 pm
    • That’s a great idea. It makes so much sense. Close Eagles Nest to the public because idiots keep dying. They should probably close all public roads and highways as well. Think how much safer this world would be then. ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ

      Sunday, 16 October 2016, 4:50 pm
      • My nephew was only 15 when he died out there, he was far from being an idiot you’re the idiot!

        Sunday, 16 October 2016, 8:12 pm
        • sorry for your nephews loss and your right he was not an idiot! however i knew his father well and he was an idiot and i am sorry he got that boy killed.

          Sunday, 16 October 2016, 9:28 pm
      • Idiots ? My nephew was a teenage boy …your an idiot

        Sunday, 16 October 2016, 8:56 pm
        • I can’t even believe these people you guys just stop even reading it because I’m about to get livid at some of these people they can have their opinions all they want but if it was them on the other end they have a completely different response so don’t listen to their crap Angelina and Cassy.

          Monday, 17 October 2016, 11:25 am
          • Diving that system with no scuba training whatsoever should have never been attempted, period. Diving it with only open water training is also negligent as hell.

            A loss like that is HORRIBLE, and I can’t imagine being in your shoes – but that doesn’t mean that the place needs to be closed to public access. Most deaths are the result of untrained divers or non-divers doing things they shouldn’t be doing.

            Monday, 17 October 2016, 3:06 pm
    • Why should they close it because people who had no business diving they chose to dive? That’s like closing a road because someone got hit crossing the road not at an intersection.

      Sunday, 16 October 2016, 4:58 pm
    • It’s very, very hard to die by accident in there. You have to drive far out of your way, spend a fair bit of cash for specialized equipment and make a very concerted effort to get to this place, get under the water, swim pass the warning signs and get yourselfd killed. Someone that determined to do what he clearly knows he should not be doing (there are warning signs everywhere just begging unqualified divers not to be fools) is not going to be stopped by “No Tresspassing”, or fences, or even a locked iron grate over the passage as was proven at another spring.

      If you want to save lives you need to make it public knowlege that unqualified divers have no business doing these dives. Never, nada, no explanations, no justifications, no exceptions.

      Sunday, 16 October 2016, 5:16 pm
  • So sad …we love you Dillon Sanchez and we miss you

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 1:33 pm
    • Such sad memories this brought back I’m going to have to keep Brooke from watching the news for a couple days love and miss our boys

      Monday, 17 October 2016, 11:20 am
  • Oh no. Terrible news. Praying.

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 12:42 pm
  • Most the people that have died here should not have even been here they were not CAVE divers.

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 11:57 am
    • People do not dive this sink hole with out a line securly fassened above water and a lookout person above water at all times this way if you don’t surface in a reasonable amount of time (less than half the time you tanks will last)you will have someone there with the other end of the rope to try to rescue you even this is not fool proof but will greatly increase your odds of survival also if you are a non experienced diver don’t attempt with out someone who is

      Sunday, 16 October 2016, 12:41 pm
      • That is not at all how you safely cave dive. Do it post such dangerous misinformation- following your instructions could easily get someone killed. Eagles Nest (and ALL caves) are for trained cave divers only. You need scuba training to dive, and you NEED CAVE DIVER training to cave dive.

        Sunday, 16 October 2016, 2:20 pm
        • Thanks for saying that Teddy!

          Monday, 17 October 2016, 1:30 am
        • And this site also required advance trimix training. Even with all the above this is considered an advanced Cave Site due to extreme depth and conditions.

          Monday, 17 October 2016, 9:35 am
        • Not quite, Teddy. You don’t need any special training or equipment to dive into a cave (or mine). But you do in order to come back out.

          Tuesday, 18 October 2016, 1:28 am
      • Jeremy – You have no idea what your talking about – This information is compleatly wrong .If you dont know what your talking about please say nothing .

        Monday, 17 October 2016, 10:57 am
  • I’ve seen divers do fine here. This is for expert divers .

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 11:54 am
  • So awful…prayers for the families and first responders involved

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 11:48 am
  • When will people realize that this place is a death trap ….

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 11:16 am
    • Unfortunately, warning of danger doesn’t matter to some people. Sad situation.

      Sunday, 16 October 2016, 11:50 am
    • just curious …why is this place a death trap?

      Sunday, 16 October 2016, 11:55 am
      • underwater caverns

        Sunday, 16 October 2016, 1:45 pm
        • People log thousands of safe cave dives every year.

          Monday, 17 October 2016, 3:03 pm
    • When they have explored the entire cave system and mapped it. (Which wouldn’t stop others who haven’t been) or… when they are dead.

      Sunday, 16 October 2016, 3:43 pm
    • Compare the number of dives by qualified divers to the number of incidents involving qualified divers and I suspect it’s no more a death trap than any other sports location. VASTLY safer than the mini lobster season.
      An unqualified diver that dies here died of foolishness on absolutely stunning scale, they were as out of place as Grandma with her walker on the ice fields of Mt Hood. A few think they are so skilled that they don’t need to take classes, train and qualify like mere mortals. Please take note when it is one of these legends in his own mind that got hurt and don’t blame the sport for the accidents of fools taking shortcuts.

      Sunday, 16 October 2016, 5:04 pm
    • Has nothing to do with the place itself. Has everything to do with people diving past their ability or level of training.

      Monday, 17 October 2016, 1:45 pm
    • When will people realize driving on highways are possible death traps? Flying on airplanes are possible death traps? Giving birth to a baby is a possible death trap? Stop and think about what you are suggesting.

      Friday, 21 October 2016, 12:17 pm
  • This is so sad. Prayers to the families.

    Sunday, 16 October 2016, 11:15 am

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