‘I Don’t Think She Wants To Be Lost’ – Friends, Family Search For Missing Utah Tech CEO
Oct 11, 2019, 10:41 PM | Updated: 10:46 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Friends and family are continuing to search for a Utah CEO who went missing in California at the beginning of the week.
“She’s one of those incredible people that’s an engineering mind and a CEO mind smashed into one,” said colleague Emily Smith. “I mean, people like her don’t come around very often.”
Valenti’s husband said she was last seen Monday afternoon in Palo Alto, California, wearing a white t-shirt and torn jeans. Her phone was pinged in San Jose, which is where she was headed. But Valenti never returned her rental car and never got on her flight back to Utah.
“She’s an incredible person and I don’t think she wants to be lost,” Smith said.
For now, police are treating this as a “voluntary missing persons case.” But friends and family said this is unlike her.
“We’ve lost one of our own I think is what feels so strange about this. Like she’s one of us and she’s lost but we can still find her,” Smith said.
Smith has known Valenti for a couple of years and both were finalists heading into the 12th Annual Women Tech Awards held at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
“She was very much planning on being there, had I’m sure life been as normal,” Smith said. “She had guests that were seated at the table waiting.”
Soon after Smith arrived, she sent Valenti a text.
“I was sure she was going to win,” Smith said. “I texted her when we sat down. I said, ‘hey what table are you at? I bet you’re going to win the entrepreneurial excellence award.’”
No response. When it came time to announce the winner for the award, Smith pressed record on her phone to capture the moment.
In the video, you can hear the presenter say, “the entrepreneurial excellence award to Erin Valenti”, followed by applause. But then, no one walked on stage and the room fell silent.
“We didn’t know why she wasn’t at the awards. That was my first realization that something was weird,” Smith said. “Immediately we assumed maybe she was on a plane or something because it was very out of the ordinary for her to not be somewhere where she had anticipated being.”
It wasn’t until later that Smith saw a post on Valenti’s husband’s Facebook page and learned her friend and colleague had already been missing for two days.
“Oh my gosh, she’s actually missing? That was awful,” she said.
As family members search for any sign of Valenti in California, the Utah tech community is left wondering and hoping for answers.
“She’s a genius. She’s such an incredible mind. We need to find her,” Smith said.
Valenti is a woman with blue eyes and blonde hair. She was last seen driving a gray Nissan Murano with California license plates 8LUD641.