AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man found dead in Lady Bird Lake in March may have fallen or entered the water or had a “natural event” near the water, according to a medical examiner’s report obtained by KXAN.

Police and first responders were called to 1100 W. Riverside Drive on the morning of March 5. Clifton Axtell, 40, was pronounced dead at the scene.

It’s unclear how the man entered the water “as it was an unwitnessed event,” the report stated.

“Unfortunately, there are often no specific findings at autopsy to confirm drowning as the cause of death,” the report said, adding it is “often dependent on case circumstances.” Because it didn’t have more information on those circumstances, it said the official cause and manner of death were “best certified as undetermined.” The report stated the medical examiner’s opinion would be updated if new information became available.

Austin Police previously said the death is not being investigated as suspicious.

The report referenced medical records obtained from a Feb. 23, 2023 visit that stated the man had “severe depression though he denied suicidal ideation.” It also mentioned that visit happened “days prior to being reported missing.”

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. Crisis counselors are available 24/7.

According to an online obituary, Axtell worked in Austin as a land specialist and “loved his family deeply.”

“We will miss his compassion, wit, kindness, and capacity to capture beauty and truth in his art. He loved writing and playing music. Cliff had the ability to energize the room with his fierce intellect and creativity,” it said.

Deaths in Lady Bird Lake

Several deaths near Lady Bird Lake have prompted calls for better lighting, fencing and more signage near the lake. It also caused some unfounded speculation about the deaths. 

At least five bodies have been found in Lady Bird Lake in 2023.

Date RecoveredVictimBody FoundInformation
June 27, 2023Mogga DogaleNear 1000 block of W. Cesar Chavez St.APD: “This is not being investigated as a homicide.”
April 15, 2023Christopher Hays-ClarkNear 2700 block of Canterbury StreetAPD: “No foul play or suspicious circumstances are involved.”
April 1, 2023Jonathan HoneyNear 10 Rainey St.Medical Examiner: Accidental drowning.
March 5, 2023Clifton AxtellNear 1100 W. Riverside DriveMedical Examiner: Undetermined cause of death
APD: “Not suspicious at the time”
Feb. 13, 2023Jason JohnNear 30 East AvenueMedical Examiner: Accidental drowning