Deanna Weniger Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
CROSSLAKE, Minn. — A conservation officer responding to a call about a possible body in the water, was thrown from a boat Friday evening and drowned.
The Pine County sheriff’s office said a deputy and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officer were dispatched to Cross Lake, east of Pine City, around 7:45 p.m. after people fishing from the shore said they’d seen something odd in the water.
Within a minute of leaving the launch, both officers were thrown from the boat into the water. They began swimming towards shore. Additional deputies procured a row boat from a neighboring property and attempted to rescue the officers, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
They were able to save the deputy, but the conservation officer — identified by the DNR Saturday as Eugene Wynn — slipped below the water before they could reach him.
Wynn’s body was recovered about 1:35 a.m. following a search by sheriff deputies, the Minnesota DNR, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Wisconsin DNR, Chisago County Sheriff’s Office, Pine City Fire, Stacy/Lent Fire and St. Louis County Rescue.
The deputy was taken by ambulance to Firstlight Hospital in Mora where he was treated for temperature related injuries. He has been released.
The cause of the accident is under investigation by the Pine County Sheriff’s Office. Midwest Medical Examiners will do an autopsy.
Wynn, who is survived by a wife and two children, had been a conservation officer since 2001. He is the 22nd Minnesota conservation officer to die in the line of duty.
“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.”
Gov. Tim Walz released a statement praising Wynn.
“As a first responder, peace officer, and protector of Minnesota’s natural resources, Officer Eugene Wynn dedicated his life to keeping Minnesotans safe and making our state a better place to live,” Walz said. “Gwen and I send our deepest sympathies to his family and on behalf of the State of Minnesota, we thank him for his many years of selfless service.”
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