A 20-year-old death was just solved at disappearing Lake Mead

A navigation buoy lies on the cracked bed of Lake Mead near the Boulder Boat Launch
A navigation buoy lies on the cracked bed of Lake Mead near the Boulder Boat Launch as the water continues to recede in the nation’s largest reservoir.
(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Human remains found at Lake Mead earlier this year have been identified as a Las Vegas man who drowned nearly 20 years ago, authorities said.

Thomas Erndt, 42, drowned in the lake on Aug. 2, 2002, according to the Clark County Coroner’s Office. His remains were discovered May 7 in the Callville Bay area.

Erndt was identified using DNA analysis as well as investigative information and reports from the original incident, authorities said.

The cause and manner of Erndt’s death is undetermined, but a coroner spokesperson said he was believed to have drowned.


Erndt “jumped from a boat on Aug. 2, 2002, is missing and presumed drowned,” according to a death announcement published in the Review-Journal. His memorial service took place Aug. 9, 2002, at Prince of Peace Catholic Church.

His remains are one of five sets of human remains that have turned up in recent months since water levels have dramatically dipped because of a lingering drought.

On May 1, a man’s remains were discovered in a barrel at Hemenway Harbor, according to the coroner’s office. The man is believed to have been fatally shot between the mid-1970s and early 1980s, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

“We believe this is a homicide as a result of a gunshot wound,” said Homicide Section Lt. Ray Spencer. The investigation is continuing.

Partial skeletal remains were discovered Aug. 6 in the Boulder Beach area, the same area that remains were previously found on July 15, according to the coroner’s office. Investigators are attempting to determine whether the two sets of human remains are the same person.

Human remains were also discovered Aug. 16 in the Boulder Beach area by a park visitor. No other information was available Friday morning.