Set of human remains from Lake Mead identified 20 years after man’s death

The first set of human remains found this year in Lake Mead have been identified (Pictures: Getty Images/AP)

Human remains found three months ago in the drought-stricken Lake Mead belong to a 42-year-old man who drowned two decades ago, officials in Nevada said Wednesday.

The Clark County Coroner’s office has identified the remains discovered on May 7 as Thomas Erndt, of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Erndt, a 42-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada, reportedly drowned on August 2, 2002, according to authorities. An official cause and manner of his death have not yet been determined.

His remains are just one of many shocking discoveries made at Lake Mead in recent months, as the water level at the nation’s largest reservoir recently hit a record level low.

Erndt was identified using investigative information, DNA analysis and reports from the original incident of his drowning, a spokesperson with the coroner’s office said.

An obituary published in the Cincinnati Enquierer said Erndt, a devoted father of two who died in an accident in Lake Mead.

The DNA samples used in identifying remains found in the reservoir can be impacted by time and environmental stressors, officials in Clark County said.

Erndt’s remains are one of at least three sets found as the water levels in the lake drop to historic lows. Earlier this month, Lake Mead was designated to operate in a Tier-2a shortage for the first time, meaning it will restrict water for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

The region’s ‘megadrought’ has been an ongoing issue for 23 years, though water levels at Lake Mead have dropped significantly in recent months.

In June, Lake Mead’s surface elevation was measured at 1,044.03 feet, which is the lowest its been since the lake was filled in the 1930s. In July, that number was then beat when water levels dropped to 1,040.92 feet.

The coroner’s office is still working to identify several other sets of remains discovered over the summer due to the drought, including those of a man found .

Satellite images released by NASA show how the lake, which supplies water from the Colorado River to 25million people, has drastically receded.

‘The largest reservoir in the United States supplies water to millions of people across seven states, tribal lands, and northern Mexico. It now also provides a stark illustration of climate change and a long-term drought that may be the worst in the U.S. West in 12 centuries,’ NASA said.

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