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Bones found in Lake Mead have been identified as missing since Vegas 1998

Drought Lake Mead remains exposed

Drought reveals long-lost remains in Lake Mead


Human remains found in drought-stricken Lake Mead last summer have been identified as those of a Las Vegas man missing since July 1998, authorities said Wednesday.

Claude Russell Pensinger, then 52, was found at the Clark County Coroner’s Office, noting that his bones were found over three days in newly exposed shoreline near the Boulder Beach swimming area last July and August. The cause of death has not been determined, a coroner’s statement said.

According to documents obtained by CBS affiliate KLAS-TV, Pensinger was fishing with his brother, who was in a separate boat, when he failed to meet at a location on the lake later in the day.

Pensinger’s brother said Claude was a “good swimmer” and identified him as a Navy and Coast Guard veteran, documents said.

His identification was made last month after investigators identified remains found in another part of the Colorado River reservoir behind Hoover Dam. Donald P. Smith, a 39-year-old resident of North Las Vegas. She reportedly drowned in April 1974. His death was ruled an accident.

Lake Mead falls to just 27% capacity

Russian thistle tumbleweed floats in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada on July 28, 2022.

/ Getty Images

Authorities are still trying to identify a man who police say was shot in the head and stuffed into a barrel. He was found in May 2022 near a popular swimming and boating area. Detectives said her clothing dates from the mid-1970s to early 1980s. The The death is being investigated as a homicide.

The remains found in May 2022 were identified months later Thomas ArndtA 42-year-old Las Vegas father whose family says he drowned in 2002 while boating in the Colville Bay area.

Clark County noted that identifying human remains relies on tests to estimate age and physical characteristics, as well as DNA collection, “the quality of which can be greatly affected by time and environmental conditions.” The diagnoses are then cross-referenced with details about missing persons over the years.

The finding pattern comes as the water level in the vast reservoir has dropped An alarming record-low After decades of drought and overspending. In addition to the viral satellite photos shared by NASA, which provided a side-by-side comparison of the reservoir’s shrinking shorelines over two decades, many more came out that revealed “Bathtub Ring,” and ancient igneous rocks.

Emily Mae Checker contributed to this report.

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