South Lake Tahoe, CA…8/7/2011 Update. The scuba diver recovered from Lake Tahoe has been identified as Donald Christopher Windecker. Donald Windecker was reported missing in July of 1994 when he was scuba diving in Lake Tahoe with a friend. According to the 1994 report, Donald Windecker experienced an unknown complication while diving, which resulted in him descending away from his diving partner and making it impossible for his partner to assist him to the surface.
On July 24, 2011, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office received information from a deep diver that while diving in Lake Tahoe near Rubicon Point he located a deceased diver in a rock crevice. The deep diver reported that the deceased diver was approximately 250-270 feet below the lake surface. Based on the reported depth it was determined that the Sheriff’s Office would use a remote operated vehicle (ROV) for the search and possibly the recovery. The Sheriff’s Office, through a grant, had purchased the ROV two years ago for circumstances like these.
On the morning of July 27, 2011, The Sheriff’s dive and marine teams set out to locate the deceased diver. Once in location, the Lake Tahoe patrol boat was anchored and then used as the platform to launch the ROV. Several hours passed as the operator maneuvered the ROV back and forth along Rubicon point at 260 feet below the surface. At approximately 3 pm the deceased diver was located in the rock crevice.
The search had now transitioned into a recovery. Using the ROV mechanical claw the operator was able to grab onto the dive equipment and deputies began slowly pulling the ROV umbilical up. Approximately, 1 hour and 265 feet later the deceased diver had been pulled to the side of the Sheriff’s boat. The Sheriff’s divers then entered the water to complete the recovery.
The deceased diver was brought back to the shore and transferred to the custody of the Coroner. The Coroner will attempt to determine the identification of the subject and the cause and manner of death.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the South Lake Tahoe Police Department for dedicating two of their marine patrol boats to the search. They were instrumental in the search by keeping boating traffic out of the area so that the water remained as calm as possible, which made the ROV operators job easier. Also we would like to thank the U.S. Coast Guard who assisted in maintaining the ROV platform location.