Minnesota DNR conservation officer dies in line of duty

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

CO Eugene Wynn, who patrolled the Pine City station, and a deputy with the Pine County Sheriff’s Office were responding to a report of a possible body in the water. The two officers launched Wynn’s boat and motored away from shore.

Within a minute, both were thrown from the boat into the water. Rescuers were able to rescue the deputy, who was treated and released from the hospital, but Wynn slipped beneath the water before rescuers could get to him. Wynn’s body was recovered at 1:35 a.m. on April 20.

An autopsy will be conducted. The Pine County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into the incident. Questions about the investigation should be directed to the sheriff’s office at 320-629-8380.

Once called game wardens, conservation officers have protected Minnesota’s natural resources and people since 1887.

Wynn is the 22nd Minnesota conservation officer to die in the line of duty. He had been a conservation officer since 2001. Wynn is survived by his wife and two children.

“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.”