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Search and Rescue looking for 2 missing teens on Utah Lake

Photo Derek Petersen KSLTV

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Search and Rescue teams are out on Utah Lake Thursday looking for two missing teens. Police say the young women failed to return home from tubing on the lake.

Call about missing teens

Sergeant Spencer Cannon from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office says they first received a call at 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday about the missing girls. He has identified them as 18-year-old Priscilla Bienkowski and 17-year-old Sophia Hernandez.

Priscilla Bienkowski, 18. Photo courtesy Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

Sophia Hernandez, 17. Photo courtesy Utah County Sheriff’s Office

 

Both girls are from the Saratoga Springs-area.

 

Cannon says that a number of personal items belonging to the girls were located along the shoreline near SR-68. Those items included a cell phone, car keys and the vehicle they initially left in. 

They also found the two “pool tubes” the girls were reportedly using. One was found washed up along the shoreline, while the other had drifted out into the lake. Cops believe both were still inflated when they found them.

 

 

Search and rescue teams are basing their headquarters at Lincoln Beach Marina. That location is on southeastern shoreline, which is a few miles away from where the tubes were found. Crews say the marina provides them the best opportunity to park large vehicles, ground helicopters and get bodies into the water.

Continuing the search

Crews officially continued their search for the missing teens at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Seargent Cannon says violent winds last night made for treacherous conditions.

“When you’re on the water on Utah Lake and it gets really windy… you can’t get off fast enough,” he says. “If somebody was out there in conditions like this, our recommendation would be to get off.”

As crews are venturing onto the lake to continue their search, the water temperature is still hovering around 57 degrees.

A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter is assisting in the search. A Utah State Parks boat with side-scan sonar is on location. At this time, officials aren’t deploying it due to high winds. 

Trouble on the water

Even those with years of experience, are calling the conditions last night “rare.”

Jay Gold is a veteran kite boarder with eight to nine years under his belt. He was out with a group of about twenty friends last night on Utah Lake. He says they started around 4 p.m. and approximately four hours later the conditions started to change.

“The swells were one second apart,” he explains. “That’s why I had to ditch my gear. By the time I recovered from one, the next one just clobbered me.”

He was back at the lake Thursday morning hoping to rediscover the gear he tossed aside the night prior. According to him, the wind gusts were extraordinary.

“I don’t know… 55 [or] 60 miles per hour,” he says. “Yeah, it’s kind of rare.”

He says since the lake is relatively shallow, strong wind gusts can create big waves with very little separation. The exact conditions last night that forced him to bail all his gear.