Search For Missing Saratoga Springs Teens Enters Day 3

May 8, 2020, 11:10 AM | Updated: 8:41 pm

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – The search for two teenage girls who didn’t return from a trip to Utah Lake has entered day three.

Priscilla Bienkowski, 18, and Sophia Hernandez, 17, went to the Knolls area of the lake Wednesday, the same day high winds capsized a group of kayakers, who had to be rescued.

Authorities said the girls were likely not wearing life jackets.

The teen’s belongings were found by a fisherman on the shore Wednesday evening, and searchers later discovered two pool toys that are believed to belonged to them. One of the inflatables was discovered 3.2 miles south from where the girls had entered the lake, and the other was discovered 8.5 miles south of that. Their vehicle was also discovered parked near the lake.

Crews searched Wednesday night and into the early hours of Thursday. They resumed the search after sunrise and continued throughout the day. On Friday the search parameter was widened from a 3-mile area to an 8½-mile area.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, said teams had been having difficulty over the past two days due to high winds and choppy water. However, the lake was significantly calmer Friday, and crews are now able to use a search boat that gives a clearer picture under water.

He later tweeted that people have been offering their boats in the search for Bienkowski and Hernandez, but “because of the equipment being used in the search today we are unable to accept these offers,” according to the tweet.

Cannon asked boaters to stay clear of the search area Friday.

Search teams have utilized boats and helicopters, and authorities said they’ve combed the shoreline just in case the two girls made it out of the water.

“We’re still holding out hope, as slim as it might seem, that we’ll have a positive outcome here,” said Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. “The circumstances, however, are grave, and there is great cause of concern for the wellbeing of these girls.”

He said the search and rescue teams don’t want to use the word “recovery,” but they are, unfortunately, leaning in that direction. Cannon noted that if the girls were some place besides the lake, there is no reason to believe they wouldn’t be in contact with their families.

“As minutes go by, literally hope diminishes,” he said. “All the evidence we have suggests they went into the lake. We have an eyewitness who saw them a short distance south from where we believe they entered. (And evidence) based on the personal items they left on or near the shore.”

Sgt. Spencer Cannon said the search would continue for several more hours Friday and then would resume Saturday morning, beginning at 8:00 a.m.

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Search For Missing Saratoga Springs Teens Enters Day 3