Bodies of two missing men recovered from Lake Perris, officials say

A man in swim trunks sits on the front of small boat as a woman watches from a dock.
Authorities on Thursday discovered the bodies of two men who had gone missing earlier this week at Lake Perris.

The bodies of two men who went missing in the water in Lake Perris earlier this week were found Thursday afternoon, the California state parks department confirmed.

Riverside County sheriff’s officials recovered the first body at 1 p.m. and the second three hours later.

Both bodies were discovered by the sheriff department’s dive team, according to an agency spokesperson.


The identities of the two men were not immediately disclosed, but they were Los Angeles County residents in their mid-40s, according to Supt. John Rowe of the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Inland Empire Perris Sector.

“Both men were not wearing life jackets,” Rowe wrote in an emailed statement to The Times.

Remains identified as Thomas Erndt, a 42-year-old Las Vegas resident, who drowned 20 years ago.

Aug. 26, 2022

Three park officers and a lifeguard responded to a 911 call at the lake at 4:08 p.m. Wednesday, authorities said. The initial reports were of a vessel involved in an accident near the open boating zone just north of Alessandro Island.

A witness told park officials that one of the men was tubing behind a boat and fell into the lake. The second man then jumped into the water to try to save the swimmer.

However, both individuals struggled in the water, before slipping below the surface, authorities said.

The parks department enlisted the aid of the Riverside County sheriff’s dive team on Wednesday evening, according to sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Wenndy Brito-Gonzalez.

The freshwater lake is about three miles long and two miles wide and is located about 65 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The surrounding state recreation area encompasses 8,200 acres.


Two young siblings, a boy and a girl, died after being found unresponsive in a shallow pond in the Lake Hughes area, west of Lancaster.

April 19, 2022

The Riverside County coroner is in the process of identifying the men, notifying their next of kin and determining the official cause of death.

Rowe said deaths have occurred with some frequency at Lake Perris.

“On average, Lake Perris has two to six fatalities each year, and most are aquatic related,” he said, noting that a 25-year-old woman drowned in the lake on July 23.

He said the last vessel-related fatality occurred in 2022. He said the victim in that incident drowned while on his floating tube.

The lake’s water level had been lowered over the summer to provide water for other areas, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The agency had advised visitors to watch for potential hazards in the water.