OSHA to investigate conservation officer's death

Conservation officer Eugene Wynn
Conservation officer Eugene Wynn, pictured here, died Friday night after being thrown from a boat while reponding to a call near Pine City. He was 43 years old. DNR spokesperson Joe Albert described him as a "great guy." "The community knew him and liked him and appreciated his work."
Courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of a conservation officer on a Pine County lake last weekend.

Conservation Officer Eugene Wynn and a Pine County deputy were responding to a call on Cross Lake near Pine City, Minn. Both were thrown from the boat into the water within minutes after leaving shore. The deputy was rescued, but Wynn's body was recovered after a five-hour search.

Minnesota OSHA will review safety and health practices, conduct interviews and take photos and video to determine any hazardous conditions that may have caused or contributed to the accident, spokesperson James Honerman said. He said it's standard practice for OSHA to investigate any work-related death.

The Pine County Sheriff's Office is investigating the accident. On Tuesday, it released the names of the other officers involved: Sgt. Scott Grice, the deputy who went overboard and deputies Cody LaRoue and Aaron Quesenberry, who rescued Grice.

In a news release, the sheriff's office said LaRoue and Quesenberry "acted fearlessly" to save Grice.

"If not for their heroic efforts and quick thinking, we almost certainly would have a different outcome," the release stated.

The sheriff's office said it is not releasing any more details about the incident until the investigation is complete. The boat will be inspected to identify any damage or mechanical issues, it stated.

Wynn, 43, had been a conservation officer since 2001. He was based in Pine City.

His wife, Heather Wynn, a Pine County judge, issued a statement on Tuesday thanking first responders, law enforcement, her judicial colleagues and others for their support. She asked for prayers for her family.

According to an obituary posted online, funeral services for Wynn will be held Friday at the Pine City Civic Center.

He is survived by his wife, an 11-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son.

Wynn is the 22nd Minnesota conservation officer to die in the line of duty, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

MPR News reporter Tim Nelson contributed to this story.

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