Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Staff Report
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Conservation officer dies in line of duty

 

April 25, 2019

Provided Photo

Stacy-Lent Fire Department member John Rainer holds flag in honor of fallen Conservation Officer Eugene Wynn on an I-35 overpass in Stacy, Minn.

A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer, Eugene Wynn, 43, of Pine City, has died in the line of duty following an incident Friday, April 19, on Cross Lake in Pine City.

Conservation Officer Eugene Wynn, who patrolled the Pine City area, and a deputy with the Pine County Sheriff's Office responded on Friday, April 19, at approximately 7:44 p.m. to a report from people fishing from the shore on Cross Lake in Pine City of a possible body in the water. The deputy and Wynn were not able to determine what the object in the water was from the shore. The two officers launched Wynn's boat and motored away from shore.

Within a minute from launching near the dam on Cross Lake, both were thrown from the boat into the water. They began swimming towards shore, and additional deputies procured a row boat from a neighboring property and attempted to rescue the officers in the water.

Rescuers were able to rescue the deputy, who was treated for temperature related injuries and released from the hospital. However, Wynn slipped beneath the water before rescuers could get to him. An intensive search was conducted, and Wynn's body was later recovered at about 1:35 a.m. on April 20.

Efforts were made to attempt to locate the object that was initially reported, without success, according to the Pine County Sheriff's Department. "We do not have any reports of a missing person and no further searches will be conducted at this time," they said in a press release Saturday.

The Pine County Sheriff's Office is leading the investigation into the incident.

Wynn had been a conservation officer since 2001. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Wynn 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."

Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division director, said, "Officer Wynn served the Enforcement Division, the DNR, and the people of Minnesota with distinction. We're devastated by his loss and ask the people of Minnesota to keep Officer Wynn and his family in their thoughts during this difficult time."

The Pine County Sheriff's Office was assisted by the following agencies: the Minnesota DNR, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Wisconsin DNR, Chisago County Sheriff's Office, Pine City Fire, Stacy/Lent Fire, St. Louis County Rescue, and Essentia Ambulance.

A roadside procession took place late morning and early afternoon on Easter Sunday, ending in Pine City at the Swanson Chapel of Pine City.

Wynn leaves behind a wife, Heather, and two children. The funeral will be held on Friday, April 26, with a time of visitation and viewing beginning at 10:30 a.m., at the Pine City Civic Center.

 

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