Pinard’s remains found
Friends and family of Fred Pinard can finally say goodbye to the man many remember as a hero.
Pinard disappeared at approximately 5:30 p.m. Jan. 2 while operating a front-end loader on the banks of the Carson River near Riverview Trailer Park south of Gardnerville.
Pinard was attempting to shore up the bank which was rapidly disappearing in the raging waters as a result of the New Year’s Day flood.
Pinard’s 18-ton machine was found 200 yards downstream from where it was washed into the floodwaters. Despite extensive search efforts, no sign of the 59-year-old father of two was ever found until this week.
On Tuesday, a ranch hand who was cutting firewood on the Settelmeyer ranch discovered a human skull and a large bone lying on the ground near the river’s east bank. The location of the find is approximately three-quarters of a mile downstream from where Pinard and his loader entered the frigid waters.
“In a way, it’s a relief,” said his daughter Janine Bliss, a Gardnerville resident. “Everything is now coming together and we can close this chapter.”
A memorial for Pinard was held on Feb. 8, two days before his 60th birthday. Hundreds of people crowded into the Carson Valley Community Church to bid goodbye to a man everyone said was an unselfish person who didn’t hesitate to help someone in need.
“In a way he was from a different era,” Bliss said at the memorial. “He would stop and help people on the side of the road if their car was broken down. Nowadays people are less likely to do that.”
At his memorial, shepherding pastor Steve Erven said, “Sometimes I think about having a conversation with Fred about the conditions of his demise, and I can’t help but think that he would have said it wasn’t such a bad way to go. To be doing what he loved: helping people and working the machine.”
Contacted the day after the announcement of the discovery of Pinard’s remains, Erven said, “As soon as I heard the news, I wondered if it was a good thing,” he said. “It does open up the old wounds, but I know there were always lingering questions on the part of his kids, and I hope this will lay those questions to rest.”
Investigator Mark Munoz with the DCSO said now that a positive identification has been made through examinations of the Pinard’s dental records by a forensic odontologist, the family will be issued a death certificate and can proceed with a service.
The Wilderness Finders dog team will continue to search the area for more remains. Munoz said the family will be apprised of any further findings.
In addition to daughter Janine and son Dana who lives in San Diego, Pinard is survived by his granddaughter Brigitte Bliss, sister Phyllis Callen and brother Neal Pinard.
Erven said he thought the recent discovery could give everyone in the Valley a reason to remember Fred Pinard once again.
“He probably deserves more remembering,” Erven said. “This gives us a chance to thank him again and remember him. Fred was a part of this Valley and we all feel that.”