Man who lost son, grandson at Eagle’s Nest reaches out to grieving families

SPRING HILL, Fla. (WFLA) — Christmas will never be the same for Chester Spivey, Jr.  As the holidays approach, the Spring Hill dad is not preparing for a time of joy and celebration. For him, there is only heartache and grief.

“It was like a piece of me was taken away, like I aged 15 years that day,” he told WFLA Monday night.

Christmas Day 2013 was the day he lost his beloved son and teenage grandson. It is a day too painful to remember but impossible to forget. There’s no doubt Darrin Spivey and Dillon Sanchez were excited about their adventure that day. They were thrilled to spend Christmas exploring the delicate, yet dangerous caverns of Eagle’s Nest in Hernando County. The world-famous cave diving hotspot is popular among enthusiasts who enjoy the sport.

But, as any diving expert will tell you, the intricacies of cave diving is not to be taken lightly. Eagle’s Nest, in particular, is a treacherous location known as the mount Everest of diving. In fact, the elder Spivey had warned his son about cave diving.

“I begged him not to do it,” he said. “Once you get in there you get caught, you run out of air. I feel like they got down too far, too deep, too long and then ultimately that happened.”

Darrin and Dillon would never resurface. They ran out of air deep within the cave system.

“It’s almost like you go into a spider web,” the heartbroken father shared. “You’re a fly, and the Black widow is coming. That’s about the way I look at it.”

Now, with the tragic news of two more lives lost at Eagle’s Nest over the weekend, the Spring Hill dad is sending his condolences to the Fort Lauderdale families who lost loved ones at the same location.

Two buddies who were experienced divers never resurfaced after they went under on Sunday. 

For Chester Spivey, Jr., the news hits too close to home. He wipes away tears as he explains how he wishes the state would either close the cave or require a cave diving certification for those who choose to explore.

“If you don’t have a cave diving certification, you shouldn’t go in there,” he said. “To lose a child is the worst thing, it’s awful.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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