Two more divers die in Weeki Wachee's Eagle's Nest dive area

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Deep in the Hernando County woods, you'll find the Eagles Nest dive area.  It's a picturesque scene aboveground; below the surface, it becomes a deep underwater cave system.

"For me it's about seeing what's around the corner," said Matt Vinzant.

Vinzant is an experienced cave diver with more than 50 trips to Eagles Nest.

"People come from all over the world to dive this place. It brings a lot of eco-tourism," he said.

It brought a trio of friends from out of town over the weekend.  Patrick Peacock and Chris Rittenmeyer both had extensive cave-diving experience, but having had much less experience, Justin Blakely stayed close to the surface Sunday afternoon while the other two made their way down.

"They were supposed to come back and meet at a predetermined location underwater," said Denise Moloney, a spokesperson for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

When they never returned, Blakely began to worry.  After several hours went by, he called for help.
Rescue divers couldn't find Peacock or Rittenmeyer until early Monday morning when they recovered their bodies 260 feet below the surface.

"It is not a trivial dive by any means.  It's an advance cave dive to go downstream Eagles Nest," said Vinzant. 

What went wrong is still a question, but Vinzant says it could have been a number of things.

"They may have lost their line, they may have lost visibility, they may have been restrictive, there may have been gear issues. We don't know at this point, but more than likely it was a series of issues," he said.

Since the early 1980s there have been at least six deaths at Eagles Nest.

Underwater video in Josh's report courtesy Liquid Productions,