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Missing boater recovered from record depth at Lake Tahoe

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The body of a missing boater has been recovered from the depths of Lake Tahoe in what authorities are calling the deepest recovery ever made in the United States and Canada.

The body of 29-year-old Ryan Normoyle, of New Jersey, who went missing on Aug. 10, was recovered Sunday from a record depth of 1,565 feet according to a nonprofit group that specializes in underwater body recovery. The previous deepest recovery at Lake Tahoe was in 2018 at a depth of 1,062 feet, said a press release.

Normoyle went missing after renting a boat from a South Lake Tahoe rental company. His boat washed ashore on Tahoe’s East Shore in Glenbrook, Nev., that evening and Normoyle was nowhere to be found.

South Lake Tahoe Police started a missing persons investigation with the help of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and found that Normoyle had recorded himself jumping off the boat, but the boat was left slightly in gear and moving forward at a slow speed. Authorities think Normoyle couldn’t swim fast enough to catch up.

Normoyle’s phone captured GPS data while recording and provided a location to start a search.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office’s Marine 7 and Washoe County Sheriff’s Office’s Marine 9 responded and deployed remote operated vehicles to search the area. Officials said the marine units worked the area heavily for several days with no luck.

The founder of Bruce’s Legacy, a nonprofit that specializes in underwater body recovery, Keith Cormican, was contacted by Normoyle’s family early into his disappearance. Cormican said was on a recovery mission in Canada at the time but he had worked with Douglas County Sheriff’s Office’s Marine 7 and Washoe County Sheriff’s Office’s Marine 9 in the past. He connected with them and they deployed remote operated vehicles to search the area. Officials said the marine units worked the area heavily for several days with no luck.

“They were out doing all they could do,” said Cormican. “Working at those depths is physically demanding, not just on the people but on the equipment too.”

A UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center team provided additional data on the water currents and conditions the day Normoyle went missing. The TERC team also used its unmanned submarine to search and scan the bottom of the lake with no success.

SLTPD initiated another search Thursday, Sept. 24, with assistance from Cormican, DCSO, WCSO and South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue.

Cormican said he was only allowed four days for searching, which he said made him nervous because most cases like this need more time. 

The first day of the search went well, while they didn’t find Normoyle, they were able to narrow down the search area. 

On Friday, the crew started experiencing equipment problems. Cormican said they were running about 1,700 feet of cable to the equipment but they started losing power. The sonar was still working and at 1,551 feet, they saw the image of a body on sonar. They were able to identify him but weren’t able to pull him up that night. 

Technical difficulties on Saturday again delayed the recovery. Sunday, with the help of all the agencies, they were able to get a cinch around Normoyle and pull him up hand over hand, which took about two hours, Cormican said.

Cormican said it is the deepest recorded recovery in the United States and Canada.

Officials say the recovery would not have been possible without the support of the Normoyle family and the partnering agencies.

Cormican created the Jackson County Dive Unit after his brother, Bruce, died during a recovery mission in 1995. Then, in 2013, he founded Bruce’s Legacy. Since 2013, he’s helped recover more than 30 drowning victims.

While Cormican said victim recovery is never emotionally easy, bringing the victim home is a major part of the closure process for the families. 

“That’s what makes it all worthwhile,” Cormican said. 

Bruce’s Legacy is a nonprofit that relies on donations to help the families of drowning victims. 

To learn more or to donate, visit http://www.bruceslegacy.com.


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