Father, son die while cave diving in Hernando - WFLA News Channel 8

Father, son die while cave diving in Hernando

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The entrance to the Eagle’s Nest underwater cave system in Hernando county. The entrance to the Eagle’s Nest underwater cave system in Hernando county.
A sign at the Eagle's Nest underwater cave warns of the dangers of cave diving. A sign at the Eagle's Nest underwater cave warns of the dangers of cave diving.
The entrance to the Eagle’s Nest underwater cave system in Hernando county. The entrance to the Eagle’s Nest underwater cave system in Hernando county.
HERNANDO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - A cave diving outing ended in tragedy in Hernando County on Christmas Day.

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office says Darrin Spivey, age 35, and Dillon Sanchez age 15, drowned in the Eagle’s Nest underwater cave system on Wednesday.

Eagle’s Nest is also known as Lost Sink and is near Weeki Wachee in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge.

The sheriff’s office says that Holly King called them after she was not able to find her fiancee, Darrin Spivey and his son Dillon Sanchez. King told deputies that the pair went to Eagle’s Nest to try out diving equipment that Sanchez got for Christmas.

King had tried to reach Spivey around 3 p.m. but didn’t have any luck, so she went to Eagle’s Nest where she found his car, but he was not around. She then called the sheriff’s office and some friends who are divers.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived at Eagle’s Nest and talked to a hunter who said he saw the pair around 11 a.m. He said they were suited up and prepared to dive. The hunter returned around 6:30 p.m. and saw the car, but did not see Sanchez and Spivey.

Related: More stories about cave diving

Recovery divers found the bodies around 8:30 p.m. Sanchez’s body was found 67 feet underwater in the cave. Spivey’s body was found 127 feet down.

Spivey was a certified diver, but was not a certified for cave diving. Sanchez was not a certified diver.

Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Denise Moloney says cave diving can be dangerous, especially for the inexperienced.

“It’s very, very dangerous if you don’t know how.”

Moloney says Eagle’s Nest is known for being a dangerous location for cave diving, “A lot of people that go in, don’t come out,” she said.

Investigators were at the cave gathering evidence on Thursday.  Officials said that the divers' equipment will be checked and deputies will continue to investigate.
   
The cave is considered an advanced and very technical dive, according to area diving enthusiasts, and has been described inside as being like the "Grand Canyon" or the "Mount Everest" of cave diving. Located deep in the woods, it looks like a small, unassuming pond from Earth's surface, but underneath is a network of huge chambers.
   
One diving website, aquaviews.net, named Eagle's Nest "one of the top three extreme dives in the world."
   
"Only for highly experienced cave divers and the technically sound, the descent the Eagle's nest is similar to that of a chimney and hundreds of feet below it opens up into a large cavern called "the Main Ballroom", beyond which are longer tunnels and crannies that go even deeper," the website said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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