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Missing man found dead

Christina Proctor

A 46-year-old mentally handicapped man, who wandered away from a field trip at a Stateline casino Wednesday, was found dead Friday in Pollock Pines.

David Lambert, of Modesto, Calif., was found by workers around 9:30 a.m. in a irrigation ditch near Pollock Pines, investigators said.

El Dorado County Sheriff’s Detective Tony Campagna said homicide has been ruled out as the cause of death.

“We have eliminated that possibility,” Campagna said, adding that two witnesses placed Lambert in Pollock Pines between 6 and 6:30 p.m. on the day he was reported missing.

“We have two people who saw him alive and well Wednesday evening,” Campagna said. “I’m looking for the person who drove him to Pollock Pines.”

An autopsy was performed Monday, but investigators said the exact cause of death will not be determined for at least three more weeks pending the return of toxicology tests. Campagna said it’s possible Lambert died of exposure, hypothermia or from drowning.

Lambert, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident more than 10 years ago, was with a group from the Davis Convalescent Center. The facility in Modesto is not a lock-down facility and some residents hold day jobs, said Davis Convalescent Center administrator Jim Davis.

“We often take groups up to Tahoe on day trips,” Davis said. “We’ve never had a problem losing anyone.”

Davis said the center encourages the buddy system whenever residents are out on trips.

“We take a wide variety of trips from the Fresno Zoo, to Disneyland and local concerts,” he said.

Davis said the group had lunch at Harveys Resort Hotel/Casino and then broke up into groups of six, each with a staff member, to play the slot machines. When supervisors started to pass out the group’s second round of slot cards around 4 p.m. they noticed Lambert was missing.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was notified shortly after.

Davis said Lambert had been a resident at the center for more than three years.

“It’s very emotional,” Davis said. “It’s a family loss. He was very friendly and liked to strike up conversations with people.”

Anyone with information about Lambert and how he traveled to Pollock Pines is asked to call Detective Campagna at (530) 621-5683.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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