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Authorities identify one set of remains found in Lake Mead 20 years after man’s death

The remains found May 7 were identified as those of Thomas Erndt, who was reported to have drowned Aug. 2, 2002, officials said.
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Skeletal remains found in drought-stricken Lake Mead in May have been identified as those of a 42-year-old man who was reported to have drowned two decades ago, a coroner has found.

The remains found May 7 at Callville Bay are one of several discoveries made since May 1 as the water level of the country’s largest reservoir has fallen to historic lows.

The Clark County coroner/medical examiner identified the remains as those of Thomas Erndt, of Las Vegas, county spokesman Dan Kulin said.

Erndt was reported to have drowned Aug. 2, 2002, he said.

“The identification was based on investigative information, DNA analysis and reports from the original incident,” Kulin said in a statement. “The cause and manner of Mr. Erndt’s death is undetermined.”

A death notice in the Las Vegas Review-Journal published Aug. 8, 2002, says Erndt jumped from a boat and was missing and presumed drowned, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

An obituary in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Aug. 13 of that year said Erndt died in an accident in Lake Mead and that he was a devoted father of two, according to public records. It says Erndt was formerly of the College Hill neighborhood of the city.

The water level in Lake Mead has fallen to historic lows as the Western U.S. is in a 23-year drought in what federal officials have called a crisis.

What to know about Lake Mead’s water crisis

Lake Mead was for the first time this month designated to operate in a Tier-2a shortage, which increased water restrictions for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

The recent discoveries of human remains began May 1, when a barrel containing the remains of someone who was fatally shot was found near Hemenway Harbor.

Las Vegas police believe that person was killed in the 1970s or the 1980s, based on the clothing and footwear found with the victim.

The gruesome find prompted speculation about the mob. Police are investigating.

Skeletal human remains were also found in the water in the area of Boulder Beach on the Nevada side of the lake on Aug. 15, and partial remains were found near the shoreline of the beach on Aug. 6 and July 25, officials said.

Investigators are trying to determine whether what the remains found Aug. 6 and July 25 are from the same person, Kulin said.