WEEKI WACHEE, FLORIDA — Two divers died exploring an underwater cave system in Florida known to be one of the world’s most beautiful, but also most dangerous diving sites.
The bodies of Patrick Peacock, 53, and Chris Rittenmeyer, 38, were found by rescue divers in the Eagle’s Nest cave system on Monday, NBC affiliate WFLA reported.
Eagle’s Nest is also known as the Lost Sink. Divers access the underwater caves through a pond in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge.
Among divers, the caves are considered the Mount Everest or Grand Canyon of diving sites for their stunning views and extreme depths. The treacherous tunnels contain around a mile of passages, some of them more than 300 feet deep.
Peacock and Rittenmeyer explored deep into the caves on Sunday, while a third diver, Justin Blakely, stayed nearer the surface.
Blakely raised the alarm when his two friends failed to show up on time at their meeting point.
The two dead divers were found in a complex and dangerous part of the cave system, according to deputies. They are the ninth and tenth divers to die at Eagle’s Nest since 1981.
Both men were experienced cave divers and had explored the site before.
Florida man Chester Spivey, whose son and grandson died at Eagle’s Nest on Christmas Day 2013, renewed calls for the site to be closed in the wake of Peacock and Rittenmeyer’s deaths.