Deadly dive spot claims two more victims

Deadly dive spot kills two people

A sign with a grim reaper greets you as soon as you dive into Eagle's Nest Sink in Hernando County.  One last warning.

"It's deep, it's large and it can be unforgiving," said cave diver Matt Vinzant.

Vinzant has dove the dangerous waters of Eagle's Nest 50 times over the years.  He says it's earned its reputation as the Mount Everest for cave divers.

"The depth is a large contributing factor to the danger of that cave just because you don't have as much time to solve problems at extreme depths," Vinzant said.

Eagle's Nest is a series of connected chambers or rooms that stretch thousands of feet.  The average depth is 250 feet and it drops as low as 300 feet.  Daredevil divers come from around the world to explore and test themselves.

"I mean there's adrenaline associated with it but if you have an adrenaline rush like you're skydiving or bungee jumping, you did something wrong," Vinzant said.

Over the weekend two experienced and respected cave divers traveled from Fort Lauderdale to make the dive -- they never resurfaced alive.  Patrick Peacock and Chris Rittenmeyer's bodies were recovered Monday morning at a depth of around 265 feet by volunteer divers above an area that's known as "The Pit."  They never made it to the rendezvous point where their friend Justin Blakely was waiting for them.

"What happens when most people get into trouble it isn't one thing that gets them it's a series of events," Vinzant said.

Vinzant ,who has helped recover bodies in caves in the past, says the two deceased divers' equipment will be studied to try and determine what might have gone wrong.  Often if one or both of the divers has a camera, the video can show important details that other divers then learn from.

"It's not the caves fault.  The cave did nothing wrong, it's the people exploring the cave.  We make the decision to go there, we take the risks associated with cave diving and exploring," Vinzant said.

So why take the risk?

"It's the final frontier of exploration. There's places in caves you can go where no man has ever gone before," Vinzant said.

According to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, 10 people have died exploring Eagle's Nest since 1981.

More info in cave diving:

Father wants cave closed after deaths

Secret underwater world in Weeki Wachee


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