When a group of paddle boarders was blown into Lake Tahoe by powerful winds, all were soon plucked from the blue waters apart from 20-year-old University of Nevada Wolf Pack football player Marc Ma.
A year later, the Hawaii native’s family still lacked closure without remains to inter. This past weekend, the Ma family asked an independent contractor to search the cobalt lake in hopes of finally finding their son.
On Monday, with the help of underwater cameras, searchers spotted a body believed to be Ma’s some 240 feet below the surface.
While no official ID has been made, fingerprints and dental records will be used to make the official determination.
Ma, a defensive lineman at the University of Nevada, Reno, went paddle boarding on June 10, 2016, with a group of athlete friends from school, according to a statement from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.
Winds picked up on the lake shortly after the group entered the water. While his friends were rescued by a boat crew from a nearby marina, Ma was never seen again.
He was not wearing a personal floatation device.
The private organization found the remains using a specialized robotic underwater camera system. Called “Bruce’s Legacy,” the volunteer group exists to provide resolution to families who have lost a loved one due to a drowning or water related incident, according to its website.
“People of differing cultures, religions etc., have varying ways of mourning and showing respect for the deceased but all have one thing in common; having the body present at some point of their ritual or process of disposition,” the group’s website reads.
“Bruce’s Legacy” agreed to perform the search operation for free.
The remains were brought to shore with assistance from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard.
In a Twitter post, former Wolf Pack member Brian Polian reacted to the news of the discovery.
“I have just learned that the body of our dear friend and teammate, Marc Ma, has been recovered from Lake Tahoe. It has been over a year since we lost him and I know that it has been an incredibly difficult time for his family and friends. I hope that today’s events bring those closest to Marc some closure and peace,” he wrote.
Polian closed his message, saying: “I think about my friend every day and miss him very much. #Family”