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Body found last year in Lake Mead has been identified

The Clark County coroner is still trying to identify other remains found last year as the lake has receded because of drought.
Credit: AP
FILE - A formerly sunken boat sits upright into the air with its stern stuck in the mud along the shoreline of Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, June 10, 2022, near Boulder City, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

LAS VEGAS — Human remains found last October on the shoreline of shrinking Lake Mead were from a North Las Vegas man who drowned in April 1974, authorities in Las Vegas said Tuesday.

Donald P. Smith was 39 when he was reported missing in the waters of the Colorado River reservoir behind Hoover Dam, the Clark County coroner’s office said in a statement. The identification was made through DNA, and his death has been ruled accidental.

Coroner's investigators are still trying to identify other remains found last year while the lake recedes because of drought, said county spokeswoman Stacey Welling. That includes those of a man who Las Vegas police say was shot in the head and stuffed into a barrel found in May 2022 near a popular swimming and boating area about a 30-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip.

Police in Las Vegas and neighboring North Las Vegas, and city officials in North Las Vegas said they did not immediately have information about a missing person or drowning report related to Smith, or family contacts.

His were the last of a series of remains publicly reported to have been found last year at the lake, which has for decades been a fishing, swimming and boating destination — and the object of lore about being a dumping ground for the underworld during the early years of the Las Vegas Strip.

Remains found in May 2022 in the Callville Bay area were identified in August 2022, as those of Thomas Erndt, a 42-year-old Las Vegas father whose family said he drowned during a nighttime family boat outing late Aug. 2, 2002, at the lake.

Other skeletal remains discovered over a three-week span in late July and early August along the shoreline at the Boulder Beach swimming area belonged to one person, the coroner's statement said Tuesday. Authorities are still trying to link a name with those remains.

Credit: AP
In this aerial photo, a bathtub ring of light minerals show the high water mark on the shore of Lake Mead along the border of Nevada and Arizona, Monday, March 6, 2023. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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