Body found at Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake as seen from the air, in the Los Padres National Forest in Los Angeles County, California. (Credit: Aeronrd/Wikimedia Commons)

Divers have recovered the body of a man believed to be the person reported missing after falling off a boat at Pyramid Lake on Monday, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.   

The find follows a search that started late Monday morning, with investigators employing a combination of divers, boats and sonar technology to scan the lake and its floor bed, according to law enforcement officials.  

“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Parks Bureau divers recovered a male adult from Pyramid Lake today at approximately 2:10 pm.,” said Deputy Eva Jimenez of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. “The identity and cause of death will be determined by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.” 

The missing person, described as a 23-year-old Hispanic man whose name has not yet been released, was last seen falling off a pontoon boat nearly a mile out from the Pyramid Lake launch at approximately 10:50 a.m. Monday, according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. 

Schrader said Tuesday morning the search included a coalition of 10 different divers from various agencies were using sonar technology in a challenging search of the area.  

“They’re out there today continuing to look for him,” Schrader said Tuesday. “But the water is really murky and so it’s really affecting everything.” 

Lt. Andy Dahring of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Parks Bureau, who was out on the lake Tuesday assisting with the search effort, confirmed that the divers were dealing with murky conditions for the first 30 feet of water, and then handling “nighttime conditions” for the deepest part of the search area at 125 feet. 

“I describe it more like nighttime conditions — it’s dark,” said Dahring. “The first 30 feet it is very murky, you can’t really see your hand in front of your face. But as you descend past that it clears up and you got some pretty decent visibility, but it’s just like nighttime conditions.”  

In rotating teams, the divers from the Los Angeles Port Police, Parks Bureau and LASD Emergency Services Team worked through the debris in and at the bottom of the lake, investigators said. The search area was approximately the size of half of a football field, just south of the geographic formation nicknamed “Nugget,” or roughly one mile out from the Pyramid Lake boat launch.  

“They have to do an actual grid search and they dive two at a time because they can only go down for a certain length of time,” said Schrader. “There’s a bunch of rules and oxygen levels and your body can only handle so much … so they can only go down for a specific amount of time and do their search and come back up.”  

The sonar technology can quicken this process by allowing the search team to send signals to the bottom of the lake that help them identify potential objects.  

SIB officials said investigators were still trying to determine if he had “jumped out of the boat or he fell.” And on Tuesday investigators disclosed that there was a “handful” but “less than six” people on the boat with the man, but further new details about the investigation, such as the identification of the man or how investigators believe he ended up in the water, were unavailable as of the publication of this article. 

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