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Bodies of missing girls found in Utah Lake

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah — The Utah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue recovered the bodies of two teenage girls Thursday afternoon, family members confirmed to KSL TV. The two girls disappeared after tubing in the Knolls area of Utah Lake on May 6.

The bodies of 18-year-old Priscilla Bienkowski and 17-year-old Sophia Hernandez were discovered by search and rescue crews early Thursday afternoon.  Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith confirmed that one of the girls had been found by a fisherman near Lincoln Beach, other body found by police at Goshen Bay.  

At a press conference at Lincoln Beach Thursday evening, rescue officials say weather and murky water were two forces of nature that hindered efforts all week.  The bodies wound up being recovered about 8 1/2 miles from where the girls originally entered the water.  Duck tubes the girls had floated on in the water were found about 2 miles away. 

Bienkowski and Hernandez were reported missing after a local fisherman answered one of the girls’ phones. Conditions the night they were missing were very windy, with bystanders reporting seeing large waves. The southwest side of the lake was shut down for days as search and rescue crews looked for the girls. 

Search teams say that winds in excess of 40 mph may have factored into their disappearance.

 

“Our sincere condolences to the families of these two beautiful girls,” Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith said. “This has been hard on everybody involved. I want to thank the families for their patience with us. This has been … stressful on our crews. It’s been hard to locate these young ladies.”

In a statement released by Bienkowski’s family on Thursday night, they  said how grateful they have been for all the support and love that has come to them and ask for privacy.

“The Sepulveda-Bienkowski Household is heartbroken by the loss of our beloved Priscilla. She was an amazing daughter and an excellent addition to the family. Our family will miss her deeply, and she will live on through the memories we had the pleasure of sharing with her during her life.

“We appreciate all the support that has come from Priscilla’s family, friends, and local Utahns who’ve shown their loving support in any way, shape and form. We are grateful to all those who were involved in the search for her, and we have a deep gratitude for those who have supported our family during this dark time in our lives.

“At this time we wish to mourn the loss of Priscilla in private. Thank you.”

 

This story will be updated.