Bodies of missing girls found in Utah Lake

May 14, 2020, 6:08 PM | Updated: May 15, 2020, 11:15 am

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.

Today’s Top Stories


Sister Tracy Y. Browning, second counselor in the Primary general presidency, speaks during the Sat...
Waverly Golden

Saturday morning conference session makes history

During the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Tracy Y. Browning became the first Black woman to ever speak at a general conference.
1 day ago
Salt Lake County DA's office pictured, it just declined to call an incident an officer-involved cri...
Samantha Herrera

Salt Lake County DA says police chase that ended in a fatal crash was not an officer-involved critical incident

The DA's office found that a police chase turned crash did not meet the criteria for an officer-involved critical incident.
2 days ago
chronic wasting Utah...
Adam Small

DWR wants to test deer kills for chronic wasting disease

Though chronic wasting disease isn't prevalent in Utah animals, wildlife officials say they want to keep ahead of potential problems.
2 days ago
Sgt. Elvin L. Phillips pictured. He's a World War II soldier, his burial will be in Bluffdale....
Amie Schaeffer and Samantha Herrera

Fallen World War II solider identified 78 years after his death, burial planned in Bluffdale

Using DNA analysis, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was able to identify a World War II solider and he is now being returned home for burial.
2 days ago
pig poop power...
Elizabeth Weiler

Nations largest pig farm exposed, two face criminal charges

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A jury selection is underway after two activists filmed their theft of dying piglets from Utah’s Circle Four Farm in an attempt to save them.  Advocates are calling it a landmark case to establish the “Right to Rescue” animals in distress.  Animal rights activists Paul Darwin Picklesimer and a former Northwestern […]
2 days ago
Sprinkler watering lawn pictured. Drought water conservation made improvements this year....
Chris Jacobs

Water levels indicate that Utah’s water conservation efforts are working

The Division of Water Resources reported that drought conditions are lower than last year and water conservation has maintained consistent water levels.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Bodies of missing girls found in Utah Lake