Father & Son Die in Christmas Diving Accident: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

On Christmas day, Darren Spivey, 35, and his 15-year-old son Dillon Sanchez died during a father-son Christmas morning dive using equipment they received for Christmas. The two were last seen around 11am as they prepared for their dive.

Here is what you need to know about this underwater accident:

1. They Were Diving at the Eagle’s Nest

The Eagle’s Nest sink is in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area in Hernando County, Florida, just north of Tampa.

According to CaveAtlas, the Eagle’s Nest is around 310 feet deep and is considered a “very advanced dive.”

You can watch a video of someone doing the Eagle’s Nest Dive above.

2. Spivey Was an Experienced Diver, Sanchez Was Not

christmas cave diving accident


The National Association for Cave Diving recommends that those planning to dive in the Eagle’s Nest have a minimum of “full cave certification”, “Trimix certification”, and the “appropriate experience with deep cave dives.”

Police speaking from near the site of the dive reported that Spivey was an experienced scuba diver but was not a certified cave diver. It is also being reported that Spivey’s son was not a certified diver.

3. Authorities Were Called When They Did Not Return Home

Grant Acord Police Investigation

Four hours after their 11 a.m. dive, at around 3 p.m., Spivey’s fiancee Holly King called the authorities. Spivey’s car was still parked by the sink site and by 8:30 p.m. Christmas night, divers were sent into the cave to look for them.

4. Their Bodies Were Recovered at Very Different Depths

That evening a professional diver was sent to explore the cave and discovered Spivey’s body in the cave about 67 feet below the surface. Two more divers were sent in, and the body of 15-year-old Sanchez was finally recovered much deeper, around 127 feet below the surface.

5. Cave Diving Claimed 368 Divers Between 1969 and 2007

A study conducted by the Cave Divers Association of Australia found that world wide, 368 people died in cave diving accidents worldwide between 1969 and 2007.

According to the study, 329 of those accidents occurred in caves in the Unites States, 111 of those fatalities occurred in Florida.