Details Released in Tragic Drowning of 69-Year-Old Man

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that 69-year-old Robert L. Gardella from Phelan tragically drowned in the Colorado River on Wednesday.

Sheriff’s Department’s boating deputies responded to distress calls regarding a drowning incident in the river, approximately 2.5 miles north of Lake Havasu at around 3:30 p.m.

Witnesses recounted that Gardella leaped from a stationary boat to fetch a fishing rod that had tumbled into the river. Unexpectedly, he encountered difficulties while in the water, submerged, and didn’t re-emerge, as per the authorities’ report.

Divers from multiple agencies, including the San Bernardino County Sheriff, Mohave County Sheriff, and Lake Havasu City Police, were promptly mobilized to the scene to initiate the search for Gardella. Aerial sweeps were also conducted by a helicopter from the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Additionally, sonar scans using remote-operated vehicles and rescue dives were carried out in the effort to locate the missing man.

The search extended until sunset on Wednesday without any luck. The operations were temporarily halted and then recommenced on Thursday morning.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., divers discovered Gardella’s body, and he was declared deceased on the spot.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Coroner Division took over the body of Gardella, as stated by the officials. An ongoing investigation is underway into the circumstances of the incident.

The Colorado River Station is welcoming any information pertaining to the incident. Deputy Justin Bacon can be contacted at 760-326-9200. Anonymous tips can also be submitted to the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-7827-463 or through their website at