Authorities said Thursday they believe they have found the bodies of Priscilla Bienkowski, 18, and Sophia Hernandez, 17

By Rachel DeSantis
May 15, 2020 01:13 PM
Priscilla Bienkowski, Sophia Hernandez
| Credit: Utah County Sheriff (2)

Authorities in Utah believe they have found two teenage girls more than a week after they went missing while tubing on the water.

Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith said authorities found two bodies they believe are those of Priscilla Bienkowski, 18, and Sophia Hernandez, 17, at Utah Lake on Thursday, concluding a search that began following their May 6 disappearance.

The first body was found just before 2 p.m. local time by a fisherman off one of the jetties at Lincoln Beach, while the second was spotted at 4:40 p.m. by a pilot in Goshen Bay, Smith said at a press briefing.

Bienkowski and Hernandez were last seen taking “duck tubes” out onto the water, and are thought to have hit unexpected bad weather.

“A storm blew in quickly, and the two girls were unable to reach safety,” according to a GoFundMe page. “They were called home while doing what they loved, spending time with friends, and enjoying the world around them.”

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Smith said the bodies were found about 8.5 miles from where the girls got onto the water, and that authorities spent well over 1,000 hours searching with help from boats, wave runners, helicopters and airplanes.

“This has been hard on everyone involved… It’s been very stressful on our crews, it’s been hard to locate these young ladies and I want to thank [their families] for their patience with us on that,” Smith said. “I just want to express our deepest condolences. I can’t imagine, I never want to imagine, what they’re going through.”

Sgt. Justin Gordon said tracking them down was particularly tricky because of the weather on the “unpredictable lake,” and that they ultimately found the bodies miles away from where they expected them to be.

He added that the fisherman who made the discovery was “shaken up.”

Multiple GoFundMe pages have been arranged for Bienkowski, from Saratoga Springs, and Hernandez, from Eagle Mountain.

“[Priscilla] was quick to smile, had the voice of an angel, and brought joy to her mother’s life,” one page reads.