Lake Mead National Recreation Area bodies: More human remains discovered in receding waters

More human remains were found in the receding waters of Lake Mead, authorities said Saturday.

This is the fourth time human remains have been found in Lake Mead National Recreation Area since May.

In the latest incident, park rangers received a call Saturday morning about skeletal remains in the Swim Beach area, National Park Service officials said in a statement.

According to the Park Service, rangers set up a perimeter on the beach to recover the remains with the help of divers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. A coroner was also called to determine the cause of death.

At least three different sets have previously been found at the lake, where water levels have fallen to unprecedented lows amid an unrelenting water crisis in the west.

The remains discovered earlier, including a body found in a corroding barrel with a gunshot wound, were in advanced stages of decomposition and therefore difficult to extract, officials said.

It is unclear how long the last remains found were in the lake. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Homicide Unit is not currently investigating, Lt. Jason Johansson to CNN.

However, the police department is leading an investigation into another body that was found in the barrel at Hemenway harbor on May 1 by the lake. The body had an apparent gunshot wound and investigators immediately treated it as a homicide investigation, Johansson previously told CNN.

“Every time you have a corpse in a barrel, clearly someone else was involved,” he said.

Since then, Clark County Coroner Melanie Rouse has tentatively ruled the cause and manner of death as gun homicide. The remains, which coroners named Hemenway Harbor Doe, belonged to someone who died in the mid-1970s to early 1980s, police say.

A second set of remains – found May 7 in Calville Bay – are thought to belong to someone aged between approximately 23 and 37, according to Rouse.

It is unclear how this person died. Calville Bay’s remains are more skeletal than the other two sets, both of which still have organ tissue available for study, Rouse said.

A third set of remains found on the lake’s swimming beach on July 25 are only partial and are still in the early stages of investigation, according to Rouse.

The lake straddles the border between Nevada and Arizona.

While the murky discoveries in the shrinking lake quickly spawned theories about mob involvement, Johansson said those ideas were “pure speculation” at this point in the investigation.

A National Park Service spokesman told CNN a possible explanation for the remains could be that they belong to people who previously drowned at the lake when water levels used to be high.

At its peak in the ’80s, Lake Mead — the country’s largest artificial reservoir — was 1,225 feet above sea level. But as the mega-drought continues, water levels this year have fallen to the lowest since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s.

According to NASA, Lake Mead was only 27% full on July 18, 2022.

The water level has dropped so much that a sunken ship from the Second World War was uncovered in addition to several bodies, the park service said in early July.

The video in the media player above is from a previous report Lake Mead National Recreation Area bodies: More human remains discovered in receding waters

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