LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The discovery of floating human remains at Lake Mead has a Las Vegas family hopeful they are an Army veteran who drowned two decades ago.

Kenneth Funk was 56 when he drowned at the lake saving his wife, his family told the 8 News Now I-Team’s David Charns.

“The fact that these remains are coming up, if it is him, I want to do the right thing and take care of him,” Jessica Condon said Wednesday. Funk loved the outdoors and boating on the lake, she said.

“That’s where he loved to be,” Condon said with pictures of her father and her family surrounding her.

An employee photo of Kenneth Funk from his job at Sunset Station. (KLAS)

On June 19, 2004 – the day before Father’s Day – Funk was on a pontoon boat with his wife, Annette, and two other family members, when a wave hit. The force threw Annette from the boat and into the depths of Boulder Basin.

Minutes before, Annette had removed her life jacket to change her shirt, Condon said.

Funk turned off the engine and jumped in.

“He gave her the life jacket, and they were in the water together, as close as me and you are right now, and he treaded water as long as he could,” Condon said.

Kenneth Funk and his wife, Annette. (KLAS)

Eventually, he could tread water no longer.

“He put his head back, he closed his eyes, and he went under,” she said. Condon believes her father suffered a heart attack.

“My dad knew, he knew there was no way out for him, and he knew that if she held on to him, she would go down with him,” Condon said.

An airplane spotted Annette in the water about 45 minutes after she was tossed from the boat, Condon said. Video from the time shows park rangers searching the then-300-foot-deep area — some of the lake’s deepest water.

Kenneth Funk’s body was never found.

A photo of Kenneth Funk fishing with a family member before his death in 2004. (KLAS)

Condon said she was told her father’s remains would likely never be recovered – but there was always hope.

“For 18 years, whenever there is a drowning out there or there’s ever, ‘Hey we found a body out here,’ I’ve kind of prepared myself for it,” she said Wednesday.

That day came in late July when swimmers discovered the torso near Swim Beach. The swim area is along the shore in the part of the lake where Funk drowned.

“It’s built like my dad, the stomach the chest, the back,” Condon said about the torso, looking at photos shared online. She also noted her father had a unique scar on his stomach that she hoped to confirm with the coroner.

The torso is covered in a waxy substance called adipocere. It forms over time when bacteria encounter fat tissue. The wax, and the depths at which Funk’s body may have come to a rest, could have preserved the body. The question is how long the preservation could have lasted.

The I-Team showed two photos of the remains to Dr. Scott Glickman, who said it appears the person’s arms, legs and head were cleanly removed.

“You’re not just going to like lose an arm,” Glickman said. “It’s not going to get soft in the shoulder area on the right side or on the left side and the arms kind of spontaneously break off. They’re not going to do it in a clean fashion.”

“The fact that these remains are coming up, if it is him, I want to do the right thing and take care of him,” she said.

That includes a proper burial.

Following the discovery of a jawbone several years ago, Condon provided a DNA sample to the coroner’s office in Arizona. She never heard back, she said.

The family installed a cross on an island nearby, hoping others think about who it represents.

The cross in memory of Kenneth Funk installed atop an island in Boulder Basin in Lake Mead. (KLAS)

“That represents somebody who has lost their life out here for some reason, so many we need to stop, slow down, put our life jacket on,” she said. “So, we don’t have these accidents and we don’t have these tragedies.”

The Clark County coroner’s office said on Tuesday that two sets of remains found at the lake may be from the same person.

Bones discovered at Lake Mead on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (Christopher Orozco/KLAS)

Investigators were trying to determine if the remains found floating near Swim Beach are related to more remains discovered last weekend. Those remains included bones from an appendage like an arm or leg, photos showed.

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