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Diver finds another set of human remains near Lake Mead marina

Drought reveals remains at Lake Mead
Drought reveals long-lost remains at Lake Mead 02:56

Human remains were found near the shores of Lake Mead again last week, marking at least the sixth discovery of its kind since late spring.

The latest finding came after a concession dive operator who works at Lake Mead uncovered what looked like a human bone while diving in the reservoir's Callville Bay area in Nevada on Oct. 17, a spokesperson for the National Park Service confirmed in a statement on Thursday. The park service then sent a diving team to conduct a wider probe of the bay, which is one of Lake Mead's more frequented tourist spots and includes a marina with boat rentals as well as a campground. The team was able to verify "the finding of human skeletal remains," the spokesperson said.

There is no foul play suspected at this time, according to the spokesperson, who also noted that the Clark County Coroner's Office was contacted to identify the remains.

Lake Mead Human Remains
Rusting debris that used to be underwater sits above the water level at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on May 9, 2022. John Locher / AP

The diver's discovery followed a number of similar instances where human remains either resurfaced or were found in Lake Mead's recreational areas as water levels in the reservoir hit record lows this year. In May, visitors out boating in Hemenway Harbor spotted a barrel carrying a body that local police later identified as a shooting victim who was likely killed decades ago. 

Soon after that, the park service confirmed the first report of human skeletal remains found in Callville Bay, about 25 miles upstream from the harbor. The Clark County coroner ultimately identified those remains as belonging to Thomas Erndt, a 42-year-old Las Vegas resident who was believed to have drowned in 2002. Partial human skeletal remains were also found near Lake Mead's receding shores in July and twice in August near one of the reservoir's swimming areas.

The alarming pattern comes as concerns grow over Lake Mead's falling water levels, which have revealed "bathtub rings," a sunken landing craft that traces back to the World War II era and ancient volcanic rock as the country's largest reservoir by volume shrinks amid a severe and ongoing drought.

As of Thursday, the water stood at 1,046 feet above sea level, just a few feet higher than its record low over the summer and not far from the minimum elevation necessary for Lake Mead to flow downstream into Hoover Dam, a process that provides water and power to millions across the Southwest.

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