Bones found in Lake Mead identified as remains of missing Las Vegas man: coroner

LAKE MEAD NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, NEVADA - JUNE 21: Boats are moored at the Callville Bay Marina behind an area once underwater on June 21, 2021 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reported that Lake Me (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Authorities have identified bones found in May along the newly exposed Lake Mead shoreline as the remains of a 42-year-old Las Vegas man who is believed to have drowned 20 years ago.

The Clark County coroner’s office said Wednesday that Thomas Erndt was reported missing Aug. 2, 2002.

The bones were found May 7 by paddle boarders near a former marina at the shrinking Colorado River reservoir behind Hoover Dam.

A statement from Coroner Melanie Rouse said investigators used DNA and reports of Erndt’s disappearance for the identification. An official cause and manner of death were not determined.

MORE: Fifth set of human skeletal remains found at Lake Mead as drought conditions continue

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that a death announcement at the time said Erndt jumped from a boat and was presumed to have drowned.

Coroner’s investigators are still working to identify a man who was killed by a gunshot after his body was found May 1 in a rusted barrel, as well as partial human skeletal remains found July 25 and Aug. 6 near a swimming area.

Partial skeletal remains also were found Aug. 16 near the swimming area.

The water level at Lake Mead has dropped more than 170 feet (52 meters), putting the reservoir at less than 30% of capacity since it was full in 1983.

MORE: NASA imagery shows Lake Mead water levels lowest in more than 80 years