Human remains found in receding Lake Mead identified as man who reportedly drowned two decades ago, officials say



Human remains found at Lake Mead more than three months ago have been identified as Thomas Erndt, who is believed to have died from drowning 20 years ago, Nevada authorities said Wednesday.

Erndt’s remains, found in the Callville Bay area of ​​the lake on May 7, were identified through investigative information, DNA analysis and reports of the original incident, according to a press release from the Clark County Office of Communications & Strategy.

The 42-year-old from Las Vegas reportedly drowned on Aug. 2, 2002, authorities said, though the official cause of death and manner of death were undetermined Wednesday.

Erndt’s remains are one of at least three sets of human remains discovered since May at the lake, where water levels have plunged to unprecedented depths due to the ongoing drought crisis in the West.

The other remains found include a body in a corrosive barrel with a gunshot wound, officials said earlier. That case is being investigated as murder. Those remains, named Hemenway Harbor Doe by the coroner’s office, belonged to someone who died in the mid-1970s to early 1980s, according to police.

Most recently, authorities recovered partial human remains at Lake Mead’s Boulder Swim Beach in mid-August. It was the third time officials have found remains in that area, although it’s unclear whether the three discoveries at Boulder Swim Beach all belonged to one person or to separate individuals. The Clark County coroner has been trying to determine whether the first two discoveries in that area, both of which were partial remains, belong to the same person, a county spokesperson previously told CNN.

The process of identifying human remains found near the lake has been challenging due to the advanced stages of decomposition, making it difficult to extract DNA for identification. The Clark County coroner’s office uses X-rays, fingerprints, forensic dentistry and analysis by forensic anthropologists to learn more about a body, Clark County police and coroner Melanie Rouse previously told CNN.

Lake Mead is the nation’s largest reservoir stretching across the Nevada-Arizona border and serving approximately 25 million people in Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico. Recently, lake levels have plummeted to record depths amid a megadrought fueled by the effects of human-induced climate change. At its peak in 1983, Lake Mead was 1,225 feet above sea level. But as of this summer, the level is around 1040 feet, about 27% of full capacity.

The falling water level has revealed other things in the lake, including a sunken World War II ship and the original reservoir inlet valve from 1971.

Elsewhere, dwindling water levels have led to the unveiling of dinosaur tracks from about 113 million years ago in a Texas park after sections of a riverbed were completely dried out as the state faced extreme drought and heatwaves this summer.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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