Pine County officials to inspect boat involved in Minnesota DNR officer's death

Officials in Pine County, Minnesota say they are inspecting the boat used by fallen conservation officer Eugene Wynn on the night that he died on Cross Lake.

Friday night, Officer Wynn and Pine County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Scott Grice responded to a call of a possible body in the water on Cross Lake in Pine City. Because they couldn't see the object from shore, the two got in a boat.

According to officials, within a minute of leaving the launch, both officers were thrown from the boat into the water. They began swimming towards shore and additional deputies attempted to rescue them using a nearby row boat. When authorities reached the deputy, they retrieved him, and he was transported to the hospital.

However, Wynn went under the water before authorities could get to him. Officials say his body was recovered at about 1:35 a.m. after an intensive search.

Wynn, 43, was an 18-year veteran with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

According to officials, the two deputies that performed the rescue of Sgt. Grice were Deputy Cody LaRoue and Deputy Aaron Quesenberry.

"Both Deputies acted fearlessly in their quick thinking to identify resources that were available and put them to use. If not for their heroic efforts and quick thinking, we almost certainly would have a different outcome," according to the Pine County Sheriff's Office statement.

Officials say the sheriff's office will not release any more details, but the boat will be inspected to identify damage or mechanical issues that may have contributed to the accident.

Minnesota Occupational Safety & Health Administration has also opened a case and will look into what hazardous conditions may have led to the accident. They will also look at whether life jackets were worn.

Funeral arrangements have been made for Officer Wynn. Visitation will start at 10:30 a.m. on Friday and the funeral will take place at noon at the Pine City Civic Center. 

Statement from Pine County Judge Heather Wynn, wife of Officer Eugene Wynn

“I, my children, and Eugene’s parents are so thankful for the support of the first responders, Eugene’s law enforcement community, and my judicial family in response to this great loss. I also am grateful to the many others who have reached out to share their love and support. At this time, I ask for your prayers for my family.”