The mystery of the missing Lake Tahoe paddleboarder was solved Tuesday when he was found in Missouri – not at the bottom of the alpine lake, as authorities feared.
The man’s name turned out to be Zbigniew “Zibi” Moryn, the last name close to “Morym,” the name provided last week by authorities who launched a land and water search for the man. Authorities released pictures of him and a second unidentified man taken at Lake Tahoe before Moryn’s “disappearance.” It was the second man, Ed Berger – found thanks in part to social media – who put authorities in touch with Moryn.
Actually, Moryn told police investigators, he was tossed from his paddleboard last Wednesday by the wake of a personal watercraft. Separated from it by wind-blown waves, he swam to shore.
The paddleboard, which belonged to South Tahoe Standup Paddle, was found along with a GoPro camera, selfie stick and life jacket, by a boater on the lake about a half-mile offshore on between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Wednesday.
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Chris Brackett, CEO of South Tahoe Standup Paddle, said Moryn did not return the paddle.
“If he had, he would have been checked in,” Brackett said Tuesday.
Brackett said the captain of a Tahoe Sport Fishing boat found the paddle board and gear and notified South Tahoe Standup Paddle. An employee found the board had been rented for a one-hour time period about an hour before. Brackett said the Coast Guard and police were then notified. The paddle was found the next day in about 7 feet of water, he said.
The renter had identified himself only as “Moryn” and had a “thick foreign accent of unidentified origin,” police said. He paid with cash and left no phone number, credit card number or other personal information.
Police treated the investigation as a missing-person case. Then, on Tuesday morning, South Lake Tahoe police found Moryn safe in Missouri.
Investigators were led to Moryn after tips from people who had seen media coverage on the missing paddleboarder.
Those tips, combined with social media clues and leads from the recovered GoPro camera on the paddleboard, helped investigators find his traveling companion, Berger.
Berger, a resident of Arizona, told them that Moryn was a Polish tourist visiting the United States. He told them that Moryn was not with him, but, instead, had headed to Missouri.
South Lake Tahoe police investigators contacted the Department of Homeland Security, which confirmed Moryn’s identity and that he had a valid travel visa.
At 10 a.m. Tuesday, Moryn called South Lake Tahoe police to confirm he was safe and was traveling around the country. Missouri law enforcement authorities independently confirmed he was in their state, closing the case.