Diver’s Father Wants Florida’s Eagle Nest Sink Cave Closed After Deaths


A Florida man wants the state to close an underwater cave system after his son and grandson died there in a diving accident on Christmas Day.

Chester Spivey Jr. says the 300-foot deep Eagle Nest Sink cave in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area is too dangerous for diving. Thirty-five-year-old Darrin Spivey and his 15-year-old son, Dillon Sanchez, were found dead Wednesday.

The Tampa Tribune reports that at least six other divers have died in the vast underwater cave system since 1981.

“I wish they would close it,” Chester Spivey Jr. told the newspaper. “I wouldn’t want to see anyone else die. It’s just too dangerous.”

State wildlife officials, however, said they have no plans to close the underwater cave, which diving enthusiasts have described as the “Grand Canyon” or “Mount Everest” of cave diving.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District had banned diving at Eagle Nest Sink in 1999 when it bought the land, located about an hour and a half north of downtown Tampa. But cave divers lobbied to reopen the area, and the state lifted the ban in July 2003 when a management plan for the site was developed.

Located deep in the woods, it looks like a small, unassuming pond from Earth’s surface, but underneath is a network of huge chambers.

Eagle Nest Sink has been named “one of the top three extreme dives in the world.”

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sign near the pond entrance to the cave reads: “Cave diving in this area is extremely dangerous — even life threatening!! Do not dive unless you are a certified cave diver!!”

According to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Spivey was a certified diver; however, he was not a certified cave diver. Sanchez was not a certified diver.

Read more of this story here.

Have you been cave diving at Eagle Nest Sink? Let us know your thoughts on this story in the talkback below.

Source: www.nbcmiami.com

Team Scubaverse

Team Scubaverse

Team Scubaverse manages the Scubaverse website

2 Replies to “Diver’s Father Wants Florida’s Eagle Nest Sink Cave Closed After Deaths”

  1. Trace Malinowski says:

    In cave diving, we have “5 Rules” to follow that sprang from accident analysis of cave related fatalities in the 1970s and 1980s. These rules are:

    1. Be trained for cave diving and never exceed your level of training.
    2. Always reserve at least 2/3 of your starting gas supply for exit.
    3. Always run a continuous guideline to open water.
    4. Always carry at least 3 lights.
    5. Never dive deeper than 130 feet on air or deeper than an equivalent narcotic depth of 130 feet on mixed gases.

    In this accident, the minimum training the father and son should have had (following a traditional approach) is:

    1. Certified as cavern divers
    2. Certified as intro to cave divers.
    3. Certified as apprentice cave divers.
    4. Certified as full cave divers.
    5. Certification as nitrox divers.
    6. Certified as advanced nitrox or triox divers.
    7. Certified as trimix divers.

    Cave diver training agencies such as PSAI, NACD, NSS-CDS, TDI and IANTD follow a traditional approach of having 3 or 4 levels of cave diver training before a diver is fully certified to dive caves. After that there are specialty cave programs including stage diving, DPV/underwater scooter cave diving, cave survey, deep cave diving, etc. Other cave training agencies such as GUE, NAUI and UTD divide cave training into 2 basic levels with a 3rd level that includes specialty training. Since Eagle’s Nest is one of the deepest caves to dive in Florida, safe diving also requires the proper use and analysis of a helium-based mixed gas we call “trimix” along with decompression gases. The path to this training often includes a basic nitrox class, an intro to technical diving class, an advanced nitrox or triox class, and a trimix class. However, some divers also take introduction to technical diving and extended range nitrox classes during the path to full trimix certification. Most agencies also offer advanced trimix and exploration trimix training. PSAI also offers a program in narcosis management for deep diving.

    To my knowledge, only one cave diver has died while obeying all 5 rules of accident analysis. That diver was a cave diving instructor during a cave collapse. He reportedly gave his life while trying to help dig a way out for his buddy. The buddy survived.

    In this accident, the divers were diving so far beyond their level of training (the son wasn’t even a certified diver) in a cave that many fully certified cave divers do not visit until they have years of experience. Lacking training, we do not even know how egregiously they may have violated the other rules for safe cave diving.

    Watch this video to better understand the dangers the faced by entering a cave without proper training:


    The real tragedy here is that a father failed to protect his son from his own hubris.

  2. Curt Bowen says:

    The sad truth of this story is the father escorted his untrained 15 year old son to his death. This is the cold hearted fact.

    As a veteran cave diver of over 30 years, I have never heard of such stupidity and carelessness to take an untrained juvenile to extreme depths (237 feet) on a breathing gas that no longer supports life into an extreme environment that only veteran cave explorers with thousands of dives would venture into.

    I have never skydive, maybe ill buy a couple helmets and a parachute and take my daughter and do a halo jump.

    Stupid is as stupid does!!!

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