Skeletal remains found at Lake Mead last fall have been identified as belonging to a Las Vegas man named Donald P. Smith, 39, who drowned in the 70s.

Smith’s death was ruled accidental. He was identified through a combination of DNA analysis and reports from 1974.

His remains were discovered after a diver found a human bone in Callville Bay in October 2022. This prompted a search that uncovered more skeletal remains.



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Smith is at least the sixth finding of human remains at the lake in the past year. This is due to a prolonged drought that has forced Lake Mead’s water levels to plummet to record lows and its shorelines to recede.

Other human remains include a body that was found in a metal barrel, leading to speculation that the person may have been involved in organized crime.

Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the U.S., providing water for upwards of 25 million people. According to data recorded this week, the lake is filled to 28 percent with water levels 40 feet lower than in 2021. This has occurred despite wet weather hitting the West since December.

The federal government has taken steps to conserve water. Last June, the Bureau of Reclamation requested states to come up with plans to cut water usage for 2023 to prevent the reservoir from reaching critically low levels.

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