WEEKI WACHEE, Fla. – The Hernando County Sheriff's Office is investigating a drowning at the Eagle's Nest just north of Weeki Wachee Springs.
The victim is identified as Davin Brannon, 53, of Dover. A family friend says he was a certified diver with experience diving in the caverns.
The sheriff's office received a call Saturday around noon about a diver in distress. When deputies and paramedics arrived, Brannon was already dead.
Brannon and his friend were barely inside the caves when it's believed he experienced some sort of medical episode, according to Michael Terry with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
"They weren't planning to explore any deeper than the first room of the cave when the incident occurred," Terry said. "We don't know if he simply drowned or if he had a heart attack, it's hard to tell at this point."
From above, the caves appear to be nothing more than a murky pond. But below the surface, deep, dark caverns and crevasses stretch for miles and are hundreds of feet deep in some spots.
Since 1981, at least 11 people have been killed diving in the caves, according to our reporting partners at the Tampa Bay Times.
"There are signs up above that tell you the dangers of going into the caves," Terry said, referring to a sign that reads: 'There's nothing in this cave worth dying for.'
A similar, much more ominous sign featuring the Grim Reaper can be found in the caverns underneath the water.
"It's not so dangerous going into the initial cave," said Terry, referring to the area where Brannon and his friend were diving.
"But once it branches out into the subsequent caves and crevasses, that's when it becomes dangerous because if you're not familiar with the area it can be easily become disorienting."
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