UPDATE: The MN DNR has confirmed that Eugene Wynn was the officer who drown on Cross Lake.
The Minnesota DNR and Pine County Sheriff's Department are reporting that a conservation officer has drowned while searching Cross Lake near Pine City.
According to the DNR press update, a call was received by the Pine County Sheriff's Office at 7:44 p.m. on Friday, April 20 reporting that a possible body had been found floating in the water.
The responding authorities were not able to determine the reported object from shore and launched Wynn's boat and motored away from shore. The release went onto say that within a minute of leaving the launch both officers were thrown from the boat and began swimming toward the shore.
Additional deputies on land commandeered the row boat from a neighboring property and attempted to rescue the officers. They were able to retrieve the deputy, but Wynn slipped beneath the surface before rescuers could get to him.
The deputy was taken by ambulance to Firstlight Hospital in Mora where he was treated for temperature related injuries and released.
An intensive search began and the officer's body was recovered hours later at 1:35 a.m. the following morning. In a statement from the Pine County Sheriff's Office said, Efforts were made to attempt to locate the object that was initially reported, without success. We do not have any reports of a missing person and no further searches will be conducted at this time."
An autopsy will be conducted by the Midwest Medical Examiners.
CO Wynn joined the DNR in 2001. He is survived by a wife and two children.
“Words can’t describe the sense of loss we feel at this time,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Officer Wynn’s service to the state of Minnesota is a debt we can never repay.”
Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division director, said, “Officer Wynn served the Enforcement Division, the DNR, and the people of Minnesota with distinction. We’re devastated by his loss and ask the people of Minnesota to keep Officer Wynn and his family in their thoughts during this difficult time.”
The Pine County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into the incident. Questions about the investigation should be directed to the sheriff’s office at 320-629-8380.
The Pine County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by many agencies, including: the Minnesota DNR, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Wisconsin DNR, Chisago County Sheriff’s Office, Pine City Fire, Stacy/Lent Fire, St. Louis County Rescue and Essentia Ambulance.