Conservation officer dies after being thrown from boat near Pine City

April 21, 2019 07:27 PM

A Minnesota Conservation Officer, Eugene Wynn, died after he was thrown from his boat while responding to a report of a possible body in a lake near Pine City.

The Pine County Sheriff's Office said in a news release, deputies were dispatched to Cross Lake, east of Pine City, at about 7:44 p.m. Friday night on a report of a possible body floating in the water. Pine County deputies and Wynn responded to the area.

The sheriff's office said Wynn and a deputy launched a boat into the lake and within a minute of the launch, they were both thrown from the boat into the water. As they swam toward shore, additional deputies procured a row boat from a neighboring property and attempted to rescue the officers from the water.

They successfully reached the deputy and retrieved him, the release said, but Wynn slipped under the water before they could reach him.

After an intensive search, Wynn's body was recovered at about 1:35 a.m. Saturday, according to the sheriff's office. 

Wynn has been with the DNR since 2001 and is the 22nd Minnesota conservation officer to die in the line of duty, according to a DNR release.

"Words can't describe the sense of loss we feel at this time," DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in the DNR release. "Officer Wynn's service to the state of Minnesota is a debt we can never repay."

The PCSO release said the deputy thrown from the boat was transported to the hospital after he was retrieved, and treated for temperature related injuries and released. Efforts were also made to locate the object initially reported in the water, but those searches were unsuccessful, the sheriff's office said, and without any reports of a missing person, the office said no further searches will be conducted.

An autopsy is scheduled for Wynn, who is survived by his wife and two children, the DNR release stated.

In a statement following the incident Gov. Tim Walz expressed his gratitude for Wynn's work. 

"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 in his statement. "Gwen and I send our deepest sympathies to his family and on behald of the State of Minnesota, we thank him for his many years of selfless service."

Stay with and 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS for updates on this developing news.

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