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DNR officer wasn't wearing life jacket before fatal fall in lake

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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.
Courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Updated 1:44 p.m. | Posted 12:19 p.m. 

The Minnesota conservation officer who died after falling from a boat on a Pine County lake in April was not wearing a life jacket at the time, the county sheriff's office said Thursday.

Department of Natural Resources officer Eugene Wynn and a Pine County sergeant were responding to a call on Cross Lake near Pine City on April 19 when they were thrown overboard. The sergeant was rescued, but Wynn's body was later recovered.

The sheriff's office investigation found Wynn accelerated the boat away from shore, then made an abrupt left turn. The boat corrected, and both officers were thrown overboard. 

Two other deputies on shore rescued the sergeant with a rowboat and a peddle boat, but Wynn went under, the sheriff's office said as it released the results of its inquiry.

The water temperature was about 40 degrees and neighbors reported seeing large chunks of ice floating on the lake. But an inspection did not find anything unusual about the boat that would have contributed to the accident.

The sheriff's office says there were two life jackets in the boat, but the officers were not wearing them. Minnesota DNR rules require staff to wear life jackets when they are on the water.

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

The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the death.