The search effort for a man who reportedly fell off his pontoon boat at Pyramid Lake was continued Tuesday 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 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. on Monday, according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Schrader confirmed a coalition of 10 different divers from various agencies were using sonar technology in a challenging search of the area where witnesses told deputies the man fell off his pontoon boat.
“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 will work through the murkiness, debris and obstructions in and at the bottom of the lake, investigators said. The search area is approximately the size of half 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 will quicken this process by allowing the search team to send signals to the bottom of the lake that help them identify potential objects.
Investigators hesitated to announce their official position on whether the man had died following his disappearance, but instead stuck to what they knew for certain as it relates to the initial findings from Monday.
“There is a possible drowning and we’re investigating,” said Schrader. “The person possibly went overboard on a pontoon boat.”
SIB officials later described the missing person as a 23-year-old Hispanic man who fell in the water, but said investigators were still trying to determine if he had “jumped out of the boat or he fell.” On Tuesday investigators disclosed that there was “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.
Dahring said that the previous day’s report of a “hit” officials received from the sonar was not “100% accurate,” but divers remained optimistic Tuesday morning they’d recover the man’s body, if he had in fact drowned.