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Wind, underwater boulders hinder Lake Tahoe search for Hawaii man’s body

  • COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA

    Marc Ho Chio Ma, 21, an ‘Iolani School graduate and defensive end for University of Nevada’s Wolf Pack football team, was reported missing while paddleboarding on Lake Tahoe on Friday.

RENO, Nev.>> Waves and underwater boulders are hindering a search for the body of a paddleboarder who went missing at Lake Tahoe.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that the paddleboarder, 20-year-old Marc Ma, went missing June 10 and is presumed drowned.

Placer County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Dave Hunt says officers have turned to a sonar expert for help, but the blowing winds create waves that make using sonar more challenging.

He says large boulders on the bottom of the lake can also block objects, forcing sonar searchers to pass over them multiple times.

Hunt says Ma’s body is believed to be in 150 to 400 feet of water. He says robots might be used to recover the body because divers don’t typically go below 80 feet.

(Ma, a graduate of ‘Iolani School and a sophomore defensive end on the Nevada Wolf Pack football team, was on a paddleboard trip with a group of friends and teammates when they encountered strong winds off Lake Tahoe’s west shore.

Ma’s board was later found adrift.

Ma’s parents said other students told them that Marc went to get help when he went missing.

Michael Ma said by phone from Nevada last week that Marc was paddleboarding on Lake Tahoe on Friday with five other students from the University of Nevada at Reno when the wind shifted and started to blow them out.

“The kids got into trouble,” Marc’s father Michael Ma said. “They were kind of far out. That’s what we’re getting from the kids and the people on shore.

“Marc was the closest to shore and decided to go and find somebody to help,” he said. “He ended up trying to swim in to get help. I don’t think he realized how cold the water was.”

A 2014 graduate, Ma was a first-team ILH football all-star in 2012 and ’13 as a member of the Raiders’ defensive line and was an honorable mention All-State pick as a senior. Listed at 6 feet 2 and 230 pounds, Ma redshirted at Nevada last fall and was heading into his sophomore year with the Wolf Pack.)

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Star-Advertiser staff contributed to this story.

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