Three teens headed out early on June 22 to “Buford Springs Cave,” a beautiful natural attraction that boasts crystal-clear water and a tantalizing cave deep below the surface in Brooksville, Florida.
The teens, aged 15, 15 and 17, according to a post by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, got to the waterhole located in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Park around 9 a.m.
Around 11 a.m., two adults — later identified as Todd Richard McKenna and Stephen Roderick Gambrell — arrived at the lake with their diving gear. They chatted with the teens for a bit before going for a short dive.
“When the adults resurfaced, they engaged in conversation with one another,” a post from the sheriff’s office stated.
“The juveniles believed the discussion was in regards to going back down into the ‘cave’ and whether or not they had enough air in their tanks to complete their dive. One of the divers is believed to have mentioned that he possibly had a leak in his tank. After a short time, both adults dove back down under the water.”
Not too long after that, one of the divers came back to the surface. He was floating face-down, and the teens thought it was on purpose so he could watch for the other diver — but soon, they realized that bubbles had stopped coming to the surface.
They swam over to check on the man and found that he was unresponsive. The three then tried to drag him up onto the dock but he was too heavy, so they called 911.
When deputies arrived on the scene, they jumped into the water and lifted the diver onto the dock, but by that time he was “obviously deceased.”
After hearing about the situation, the deputies believed that the other diver should be resurfacing soon, but they continued to wait without any sign of the second diver. They eventually realized the other diver must have encountered some kind of trouble as well.
“Several members of the International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery (IUCRR) responded to the scene to attempt a recovery mission for the second diver,” the post continued. “These highly specialized cave divers entered the water and began the search for the second diver.
“The IUCRR divers located the second diver approximately 137 feet below the surface. Obviously deceased, the diver was recovered and brought to the surface.
“Neither of the divers had any obvious signs of trauma and both appeared to have the appropriate diving equipment. It is unknown at this time if all the equipment was working properly.”
A post by the IUCRR also referred to the two as “openwater divers” and said there is “no immediate danger to other divers or cave divers as this was an isolated event.”
After the sad news was relayed to the next of kin, the divers’ names were released. A medical examiner has received the bodies and the investigation into their deaths is ongoing.
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