Genoa man drowns in Lake Tahoe’s Marla Bay

Boats at a water rescue off Marla Bay on Monday evening.
Provided/Eric Guevin/Tahoe Douglas Fire

ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — Family day on Lake Tahoe ended in tragedy Monday when a Genoa man fell into the water and never resurfaced, authorities reported on Tuesday.

William Dunham, 79, had taken his wife, son, and two grandchildren out on the lake for the day. After his son and grandchildren were dropped off on shore, Dunham and his wife returned to secure the boat to a buoy in Marla Bay. Dunham went into the water and did not resurface, said Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District Public Information Officer Eric Guevin. 

Guevin said the man may have suffered cold water shock, and added that the man had a heart condition.

“He succumbed to the cold environment of the lake waters,” Guevin said. “After a search of the area we found him in a little over 20 feet of water.”

“Conditions at the time were unfavorable due to sustained winds of 10-15 mph from the southwest creating waves inside Marla Bay,” according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “Dunham was not wearing a life jacket at the time he fell into the water.”

Reported around 3:50 p.m., boats from Tahoe Douglas Fire were first on scene.

Authorities said Dunham sank after dropping below the lake’s surface.

Members of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Tahoe Douglas Fire, the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, and South Lake Tahoe Fire rescue responded to the area and initiated search and rescue efforts.

The South Lake Tahoe emergency dive team responded because the water was too deep for a diver without a tank.

Dunham was brought to the surface around 5:10 p.m. but efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Reporter Ashleigh Goodwin may be reached at

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