Sacto 9-1-1
August 2, 2011
Body found in Lake Tahoe may be that of diver missing 17 years

Authorities hope dental records will help determine whether the body of a diver recovered from Lake Tahoe last week is that of a man who reportedly went missing in the lake 17 years ago, an El Dorado County Sheriff's Department spokesman said.

The Sheriff's Department was alerted to the body by another diver who reported seeing it at a depth of about 265 feet, said sheriff's spokesman Lt. Bryan Golmitz.

Last Wednesday, a team from the Sheriff's Department used a remotely operated vehicle fitted with a camera to locate the body - which was still wearing dive gear - on an underwater shelf off Rubicon Point, which is near Highway 89 in South Lake Tahoe.

After locating the body, which took three to four hours, sheriff's personnel were able to attach the mechanical claw of the remotely operated vehicle to the dive gear and pull the body to the surface, Golmitz said.

It appeared the body had remained at that depth due to the weight of the gear, he said.

Though the body was fairly well preserved by cold temperatures, authorities are hoping dental records will allow the coroner to establish a positive identification, Golmitz said. He said the sheriff's office believes the body may be that of Donald Christopher Windecker, of Reno, who was reported missing in July 1994 following an apparent diving accident in the lake.

Bee archives show that Windecker, then 44, and a friend had dived down about 100 feet in the lake south of Rubicon Point, when Windecker apparently lost consciousness while trying to ascend. Sheriff's officers reported at the time that Windecker was last seen at a depth of 130 feet, descending and with his breathing regulator out of his mouth, archives show.

Gear found on the body last week appeared to date to that time period, including a certification date on the scuba tank, Golmitz said.

"Everything on the diver appears to point to that 1994 case," he said. "But without the positive ID, we're holding off making any notifications."

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