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.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


Crossing Guard in Saratoga Springs is almost hit...
Adam Small

Ogden Police looking for driver that hit a crossing guard

A crossing guard was injured in a hit and run on Feb. 7. Police are looking for the driver that fled the scene.
11 hours ago
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 07: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address duri...
Adam Small, Randall Jepsen

Utah delegation’s reaction to Biden’s State of the Union Address

Utah leaders found a little to like about President Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday.
11 hours ago
A selfie taken by Gabby Petito weeks before her death shows she had facial injuries on the day she ...
Andi Babineau and Paradise Afshar, CNN

New photo of Gabby Petito raises questions

Facial injuries are shown on the face of Gabby Petito in a selfie she took weeks before her death.
11 hours ago
Utah's deregulating the workforce is something the rest of the nation could learn from. It's a topi...
Mark Jones

What America could learn from Utah’s deregulating workforce

SALT LAKE CITY — A tight labor market continues to hurt the rest of the nation. Utah, on the other hand, is deregulating its workforce by making some key changes to help build its economy and fill job openings. It’s something the rest of America could learn from.  This is accomplished by loosening the guidelines […]
1 day ago
A man was partially amputated while harvesting crops on monastery land Tuesday. At this time, it is...
Devin Oldroyd

Man’s arm partially amputated by farm equipment Tuesday afternoon

A man was partially amputated while harvesting crops on monastery land Tuesday. At this time, it is not clear if paramedics could save the limb.
1 day ago
two deer are pictured gazing up along the grass, research will take a deep dive into deer this seas...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

DWR implements emergency state-wide restrictions on shed antler hunting

The Department of Wildlife Resources has implemented emergency state-wide restrictions for shed antler hunting to help protect Big Game in Utah.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

This article about skijoring is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. Participate in Skijoring the Bear on February 20th, 2023.  What is skijoring? Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and […]
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Bodies of missing girls found in Utah Lake