FIRST ON FOX5: Son of man who drowned at Lake Mead processing discovery of father’s remains

On Wednesday, the Clark County Coroner’s Office identified a set of remains discovered at Calville Bay on May 7.
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 2:52 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - On Wednesday, the Clark County Coroner’s Office identified a set of remains discovered at Calville Bay on May 7. Thomas Erndt, who was 42 at the time of his death, had drowned at the lake on Aug. 2, 2002.

Tom Erndt was 10 years old when his father went missing two decades ago.

“It is going to take a lot of time for me to move forward and remember this,” Tom said. “Me and my dad were the closest ever. I mean I used to do everything with him.”

Tom’s father was an aircraft mechanic and would spend most of his time assisting his dad on the job.

“Me as a kid I would always be there helping him and passing him tools, I mean it was awesome,” Tom recalled.

Tom said taking trips to Lake Mead was a family ritual.

“When we hit midnight every night, it was what we called a midnight cruise, so basically all of us would load up in the boat,” Tom said. “We would go out into the middle of the lake and we would jump off the boat, swim around and have our fun.”

But one trip, in particular, changed their lives forever.

”He is swimming around doing his thing, next thing we know he is yelling and he is screaming,” Tom said. “My dad was in a really bad car accident a long time ago and hurt his shoulder really bad, so we were thinking it was his shoulder gave out. On top of it my dad was diabetic, so we were thinking he didn’t take his insulin or something like that.”

Tom said after that night, he never saw his father again.

“It has been very hard and the last 20 years, I celebrate his birthday every year and his passing,” Tom said. He also remembers his father with the tattoos on his arms.

Thomas Erndt is the first identified victim after five sets of human remains have been discovered at Lake Mead over the summer. The first was a discovery of human remains in a barrel at Hemenway Harbor on May 1. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police and federal agencies are investigating that death as a homicide.

The other sets of partial human remains were discovered at Swim Beach on July 25, Aug. 6 and Aug. 16. It’s unclear if the remains belong to the same person.

Tom said he is glad he has closure, but the discovery is still fresh and hard to process.

“I mean of course it is going to close a big chapter just knowing he is at peace now after so long but it is definitely big news and I don’t know if I was ready for it,” Tom said.