'It was one of their own': Tributes to fallen conservation officer make for somber Easter

Image 1 of 8

Conservation Officer Eugene Wynn leaves behind a wife and two children after he and another deputy with the Pine County Sheriff’s Office were thrown from their boat on Cross Lake in Pine City looking for a possible body in the water.

It was a tragic Easter Sunday for his family and his fellow officers and a very difficult weekend for all those who were close to Wynn.

Those who knew him say he was a great person who loved his job.

Friday night was a chaotic scene, with lake temperatures still frigid as desperate colleagues tried to help recover the conservation officer.

It was a somber start to Easter Sunday as a Chisago County Sheriff’s Deputy saluted the procession carrying Wynn’s body.

Multiple agencies across the area honored the fallen DNR officer as his body was transported to the funeral home.

“I heard a really odd sound,” said witness Barbara Videen. “Odd enough to make me look up.”

Videen never saw a boat, but could see at least one head in the water.

As first responders were on their way, she called to her husband who grabbed his fishing boat and tried to help the men in trouble.

The only one they were able to save was a Pine County deputy who was near death.

“He was so cold, he was just ashen,” Videen said. “So, they got all kinds of quilts and a sleeping bag and wrapped him in that.”

Videen and her daughter kept talking to him trying to keep him calm before EMTs took him to the hospital. Then, she realized crews were still in the lake looking for someone else.

“It was really hard when you saw it go from a rescue operation to a recovery,” Videen said. “It was one of their own. It was really hard on everybody.”

Around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, deputies pulled Wynn’s body from the water. The moment was a devastating outcome they tried so hard to avoid.

“I can only imagine the family every Easter, this is what they have to remember so it’s hard enough for us just one day,” Videen said.

Wynn was the 22nd conservation officer to die in Minnesota.

The Pine County Sheriff’s deputy was treated and released from the hospital. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.