Human remains found in Lake Mead may belong to soldier Kenneth Funk who drowned saving his wife

On June 19, 2004, Kenneth Funk, 56, drowned after plunging into the Nevada basin while saving his wife's life who was dragged off their pontoon boat

Human remains found in Lake Mead may belong to soldier Kenneth Funk who drowned saving his wife
A family believes the new human remains found in Lake Mead may belong to Kenneth Funk, (L) 56, who drowned while saving his wife, Annette (8 News NOW Las Vegas/YouTube)
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LAKE MEAD, NEVADA: One of the numerous sets of human remains discovered at Lake Mead may be that of a soldier who drowned while trying to save his wife, according to a family. On June 19, 2004, after his wife was dragged off their pontoon boat, a soldier, Kenneth Funk, 56, drowned after plunging into the Nevada basin. Funk's daughter Jessica Condon told KLAS of the remains, "The fact that these remains are coming up if it is him, I want to do the right and take care of him.” 

In 2004, according to 8 News Now, Funk was on Lake Mead with his wife Annette and two other family members when a wave struck their pontoon. It was the day before Father's Day. Funk cut the engine and dove in after his wife when she was pushed into the ocean without a life jacket. Funk’s wife removed her life jacket earlier to put on a different shirt. Condon said, "He gave her the life jacket, and they were in the water together, and he treaded water as long as he could.” 

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Tragically, Funk lost his ability to tread water and drowned while trying to save his wife. According to Condon, "He put his head back, he closed his eyes, and he went under." She thinks Funk had a heart attack in the reservoir of the Hoover Dam. He was never discovered. The family is sure that swimmers recovered his body in late July after discovering four sets of human remains in Lake Mead. Condon said, "For 18 years, whenever there is a drowning out there or there's ever, 'Hey we found a body out here,' I've kind of prepared myself for it. It's built like my dad, the stomach the chest, the back." 

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Funk's daughter expressed her hope that a distinctive scar on her father's stomach may help the coroner's office identify him and give her heroic father a dignified funeral. Meanwhile, the water levels in Lake Mead have dropped to their lowest point since April 1937, when the reservoir began being filled, according to NASA's Earth Observatory. By July 18, Lake Meade had barely reached 27 percent of its total capacity.

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The four sets of remains were found in the late stages of decomposition as a result of Lake Mead's receding waters during a megadrought. Just a few weeks after two skeletons were uncovered earlier this year, a WWII vessel was recovered in the lake. The second victim, whose remains were discovered inside a barrel and had been shot, was ruled a homicide by authorities.

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A plaque is displayed at the Nevada-Arizona state line on the Hoover Dam, with Lake Mead in the background, on May 10, 2022 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reported that Lake Mead, North America's largest artificial reservoir, has dropped to about 1,052 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since being filled in 1937 after the construction of the Hoover Dam. Two sets of human remains have been discovered recently as the lake continues to recede. The declining water levels are a result of a climate change-fueled megadrought coupled with increased water demands in the Southwestern United States.
A plaque is displayed at the Nevada-Arizona state line on the Hoover Dam, with Lake Mead in the background (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The coroner's office ruled that the barrel-bound body, known as the Hemenway Harbor Doe, belonged to a murder victim despite the fact that the circumstances of their death were unclear. According to Smithsonian Magazine, Lake Mead's water level dropped to 1,055 feet in April as a result of the megadrought that started in 2000. Lake Mead is a reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam that spans Nevada and Arizona. The megadrought, which National Geographic describes as the worst in 1,200 years, is predicted to endure until at least 2030.

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