Sunday, August 14, 2011

Underwater answers

Earlier in the month, it was reported that a well-preserved body had been discovered in Lake Tahoe. A sport diver descending to a sunken boat offshore from Rubicon Point, California, spotted the body in a rock crevice and contacted authorities. The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department used a remote operated vehicle to locate it, grasp it with a mechanical claw, and bring it to the surface. Because of the temperature (a constant 35 degrees) and pressure of the water at that depth (265'), the remains did not decay.

Dental records were used to identify the body. As suspected, the remains - still in scuba gear - were those of 44-year-old Reno resident Donald Christopher Windecker, last seen at a depth of 130' and descending with his breathing regulator out of his mouth. He had begun to experience difficulty with his equipment on the ascent. His friend and diving companion tried to help but, running out of air, was forced to surface and report him missing on that day in July 1994. The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office will determine the cause of Windecker's death 17 years ago. "His remains are in amazing physical condition. We'll be able to do a thorough autopsy. He may have had a heart attack or a stroke or maybe just ran out of air. Hopefully we'll determine what happened," said Sgt. Jim Byers.

Just beyond the ledge where Windecker's body was found, the lake plunges to a depth of 1,645'. The area is infamous for swallowing up victims, and its frigid waters preserve the remains of 4 more missing divers...

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