Search For Missing Teens At Utah Lake Enters Recovery Phase

May 10, 2020, 5:28 PM | Updated: Jul 13, 2023, 2:03 pm

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah — Two women are holding onto hope, spending Mother’s Day on Utah Lake as the now five day search for their missing teen daughters enters a recovery phase.

Rescue efforts for 17-year-old Sophia Hernandez and 18-year-old Priscilla Bienkowski will be scaled back on the water, and will instead focus on an aerial search.

“If they are in the water, then it is a recovery. There’s no way that if they are in the water that they could have survived or did survive,” said Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

Cannon said they’re actively investigating other scenarios.

“Someone had suggested perhaps kidnapping or a runaway joke or something like that,” he said. “We don’t believe those were the case.”

He said the evidence points to the lake’s west side where two confirmed witnesses said they spotted the girls around 3 p.m. Wednesday before a strong wind front caused a surge in waves.

“We have two very reliable witnesses who saw them on the water, a short distance apart from each other,” Cannon said.

According to Cannon, the witnesses spotted them near the Knolls area where the girls’ belongings were later found.

One witness spotted them as they were getting into the water, and reported they floated south.

The second witnesses spotted them further south, but neither reported seeing them in trouble.

“We are still not a hundred percent certain that the girls went under the water. We don’t have a witness who saw that,” Cannon said.

The girls had been to the area earlier in the week, and even posted about it on social media.

Search efforts have focused on a 3- by 2-mile area of the total 8-mile search. That area was highlighted on a map shared by Sgt. Cannon.

The colored lines represent the GPS trackers of the various agencies that have helped out in the search, including Weber County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety, and other volunteers.

Search efforts will continue moving further south towards the location where the second inflatable duck was spotted by Chopper 5. This marks the southern most point of the 8-mile search area.

The first duck was about 3.2 miles south of the Knolls area.

“If you describe needle in a haystack, that would be a very accurate description,” Cannon said of the search area. “If we were to search the whole area, we’d have another 6.5 miles to search, and that’s all in line where the yellow duck tubes were found.”

Family members were taken for a look at the area Sunday as rescue crews worked tirelessly to bring them closure.

“Especially on a day like today where it’s mother’s day, so our primary focus is the two mother’s here who are missing their daughters,” Cannon said.

Cannon said with the scaled back search on the water, a few boats will remain at the command center.

Authorities have also brought out a few cadaver dogs to assist on the water.

Family members have continued to express their gratitude for the community’s support.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

A Cache County pharmacist said he feels safer now that someone is in jail on drug charges relating ...

Shelby Lofton

‘This is endangerment to pharmacies:’ pharmacist who was victim of fraud calls, store break-in speaks out on rapper’s charges

A Cache County pharmacist said he feels safer now that someone is in jail on drug charges relating to fraudulent prescription schemes.

5 hours ago

Police are investigating an auto-pedestrian in Salt Lake City on Sunday night. One person was trans...

Mark Jones

One person hurt in auto-pedestrian collision Sunday night

Salt Lake City police are investigating a auto-pedestrian collision Sunday night. 

5 hours ago

The Manti Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was dedicated Sunday, Apri...

Mark Jones

President Nelson dedicates the Manti Utah Temple

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rededicated the Manti Utah Temple on Sunday evening.

8 hours ago

A Draper police officer and two teenagers were in the hospital following a car wreck Saturday night...

Devin Oldroyd

Draper police officer, teenagers sent to hospital after car wreck

A Draper police officer and two teenagers were in the hospital following a car wreck Saturday night.

10 hours ago

blue and red lights mixing from a police car...

Mary Culbertson

Driver ejected from truck, killed in Washington County

A man driving a pickup truck in Washington County was ejected from the truck and killed on Saturday.

14 hours ago

25-year-old Tobias Braaten was scheduled to come back from an overnight hiking trip on Saturday, Ap...

Mary Culbertson, Brianna Chavez, Mark Jones

Washington hiker found safe Sunday afternoon in mountains east of Layton

A 25-year-old Washington man lost in the mountains east of Layton was found alive Sunday afternoon.

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Search For Missing Teens At Utah Lake Enters Recovery Phase