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Two Divers Die in Unexplained Accident

September 1, 1986

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) _ A diving instructor and a student from Georgia died after companions found them lying on the bottom of a spring in 80 feet of water, authorities said.

Investigators did not know why Michael P. Clennan, 37, of Lawrenceville, Ga., and Brenda Ellen Beudnot, 26, of Newman, Ga., failed to surface, said Walton County sheriff’s dispatcher Jeannette Cooksey.

The two were part of a 16-member group from Atlanta diving Saturday night at Morrison Springs in eastern Walton County, said Ms. Cooksey.

They had been diving with two other members of the group, who surfaced after Clennan indicated he and Ms. Beudnot would remain down another four minutes, authorities said.

When Clennan and Ms. Beudnot did not surface after approximately 10 minutes, four other divers went to check on them.

Both divers were taken to the local hospital, where Ms. Beudnot died. Clennan was transferred to Bay Memorial Hospital in Panama City, where he died.

″There have been numerous accidents at this same place,″ Ms. Cooksey said. ″This one is really enticing to the divers because of the caves. It has numerous caves.″

She emphasized, however, that Clennan and Ms. Beudnot were not in a cave.

North Florida’s deep, vast, fresh-water aquifer is marked by hundreds of clear springs. Dozens of sport divers have lost their lives in the caves and springs over the years.

Most recently, three brothers from Iowa died Aug. 11 while diving in Devil’s Ear cave near Trenton.

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