Devastating Drought Conditions Reveal Fourth Set Of Human Remains Found In Lake Mead: Officials | JP
Severe drought conditions causing receding water levels at Lake Mead on the Nevada-Arizona border have exposed another set of human skeletal remains Saturday, bringing the total number of recovered bodies to four since May.
The National Park Service announced rangers received an emergency call Saturday morning reporting the remains were discovered at Swim Beach in Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Authorities said rangers set up a perimeter at the beach to recover the remains with help from divers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and further contacted the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death.
The announcement comes after three other human remains have been found over the last few months.
Park services officials announced a group of boaters discovered the first body with a gunshot wound inside a metal barrel stuck in the mud near the lake’s Hemenway Harbor on May 1.
“We were docking our boat to go home and heard a woman scream,” Shawna Hollister, who was at the lake, said. “My husband walked over and found the body. His shirt and belt were the only things we could see over his decomposing bones.”
The man, who authorities dubbed Hemenway Harbor Doe by the coroner’s office, had been shot in the head and had a metal overcoat in the shape of a barrel as it reportedly rested in the lake for years.
The homicide division for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police immediately began conducting an investigation.
“Anytime you have a body in a barrel — clearly there was somebody else involved,” Lieutenant Jason Johannson of the homicide division told CNN.
Detectives on the case believe the victim may have been murdered sometime between the mid-1970s to the early 1980s based on the clothing and footwear found with the body, a local NBC affiliate reports.
Authorities found another set of remains that surfaced at Callville Bay less than a week later.
Todd Kolod, who lives in Spain, said he believes the set of remains belonged to his father, who drowned at 22 in Callville Bay in 1958, per Daily Mail.
Kolod said his father was on a speed boat with a friend when it hit a wake, knocking both riders into the water. The friend survived while Kolod’s father’s body was never recovered.
Melanie Rouse, Clark County Coroner, believes the remains belong to someone between 23 and 38 years old, although the cause of death remains unclear.
National Park Service authorities announced nearly two months later that rangers responded to a report on July 25 of the third set of human remains found at the park’s Swim Beach area in Boulder City, Nevada.
CNN reports Rouse said the remains are only partial and are still in the early stages of examination.
Las Vegas Metro police homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told the 8 News Now investigation team he believes as water levels drop, more additional human remains would resurface above the water.
“I think anybody can understand there are probably more bodies that have been dumped in Lake Mead, Spencer said. “It’s just a matter of, are we able to recover those?”
Amid the lake drying up at historic levels and a string of bodies emerging to its surface, a World War II-era boat has also appeared in the receding Lake Mead.
JP reported the boat, known as a Higgins landing craft, had sunk 185 feet below the lake’s surface before sticking out nearly halfway out of the water.
American forces used similar boats during the invasion of Normandy during World War II, and Higgins, a New Orleans-based company, manufactured the crafts from about 1942-1945.
NASA, which recently released satellite images of the drought’s impact on Lake Mead, reports the lake holds the record for the largest reservoir in the U.S. The reservoir supplies water to millions of people across seven states, tribal lands, and northern Mexico.
Lake Mead hit its peak in the 1980s, with levels reaching 1,225 feet above sea level. However, NASA satellite imagery shows a dramatic decrease in water levels as areas of the lakeshore has mineralized over the past 22 years.
The reservoir had hit its lowest drop since April 1937 while the lake was still filling for the first time during the construction of the Hoover Dam.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reports the level plunged to 1,041.30 feet prompting officials to refill to just 27 percent of capacity as of July 18.
Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this report.