TAMPA, FL – A father and his teenage son drowned on Christmas day while doing some cave diving with some new diving gear they had received as presents.
Deputies got a call from 35-year-old Darrin Spivey’s fiancee at around 3 p.m. after he and his 15-year-old son, Dillon Sanchez, did not return home from a cave dive as scheduled.
Spivey and his son had went out to the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge earlier that morning to test out some new diving equipment inside an underwater cave known as the Eagle’s Nest Sink – an underwater cave that can reach depths of 300-feet.
She ended up driving out to the location and called police when she found Spivey’s car still in the parking lot but could find no sign of the pair, and Spivey would not answer his cell phone. A hunter told police he’d seen the pair suiting up to dive at around 11 a.m., but did not see them at anytime afterwards.
Divers went into the cave to search for the father and son, and found their bodies in the main cavern area. Dillon’s body was located just inside the cave at 67 feet while his father’s body was located at 127 feet. Investigators don’t know what led to the father and son drowning, but say they will be checking out the equipment they were using.
However, cave diving is serious business and has no place for amateurs. Lots of things can happen while cave diving that can lead to trouble for even the most experienced diver. Spivey was considered an experienced open water diver, but he was not a trained cave diver. His son wasn’t even a certified diver.
The underwater cave they decided to check out has been labelled as “one of the top three extreme dives in the world” and described as the “Grand Canyon” and “Mount Everest” of diving.
“Only for highly experienced cave divers and the technically sound, the descent of 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,” says diving site Aquaviews.net.
Over the last 20 years, eight divers have died while attempting the descent into Eagle’s Nest Sink. The pond that leads to the underwater cave is on a public site, meaning no one is there to check for diving certifications.
There are warning signs on the property, however. Some warn non-certified divers not to dive into the cave, while another is located underwater just outside the cave entrance. It has a Grim Reaper on it and states, “There’s Nothing In This Cave Worth Dying For! Do Not Go Beyond This Point.”
I found the following video of some experienced cave divers going into Eagle’s Nest Sink. They describe the dangers of running out of air inside the cave and show how they leave extra tanks of air at the bottom of the cave on their descent just to ensure they have enough air to get the hell out.
Also, while watching the video, I’ve added “Drowning In Eagle’s Nest Sink” to my list of ways I will not die – right under being “Eaten Alive By Bear While Camping” and “Parachute Not Opening”.