Plano man dies cave diving in Florida

Lynnanne Nguyen reports.

A Plano man died doing something he loved and had done dozens of times before -- cave diving during a trip to Florida.

Christopher Rittenmeyer, 38, was killed along with his diving partner Patrick Peacock, 53. Rittenmeyer's family says both men were highly experienced divers their son has been diving since he was 12 years old and took anywhere from 10 to 15 cave diving trips a year.

“Chris was an incredibly qualified diver,” said father Ron Rittenmeyer. “I used to kid with him, how many times are you going to check this equipment? And he would always say just once more.”

Ron Rittenmeyer says safety was always his son's priority when diving and his son had enough supplies for up to 15 hours when he went diving at Eagle's Nest, an underwater cave system in northern Florida. He was on the diving trip with Peacock and another man, Justin Blakely.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office says the Rittenmeyer and Peacock went diving on Saturday afternoon but did not return when they were supposed to -- so Blakely called authorities. Rescue divers found the two men close to each other in about 260 feet of water the next day.

“He never left him, he stayed with him, they died together,” Ron Rittenmeyer said. “On one hand that makes me incredibly sad. But it goes to his character. He would just never leave the other guy behind.”

Rittenmeyer's family says he was a caring friend, son, brother and husband -- and he'll be remembered as such.

“Chris was the kind of young man that looked for adventure and people to have adventures with, and to have fun,” Ron Rittenmeyer said. “He lived a full life, he truly enjoyed his life.”


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