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Searchers on Utah Lake not giving up but changing approach

Two teenagers missing since Wednesday
Posted at 11:55 AM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 13:55:50-04

UTAH LAKE, Utah — After four, long days of searching there is still no sign of two teenagers who disappeared during an outing at Utah Lake last week.

Rescue teams are not giving up, but are scaling back the search for 17-year-old Sophia Hernandez and 18-year-old Priscilla Bienkowski who haven’t been seen since last Wednesday afternoon.

The teens were taking advantage of the nice weather that day and went to the to lake to do some tubing.

Winds picked up that afternoon causing the waves to become larger and the fear is that the young ladies wound up in the lake.

Volunteer search and rescue crews spent four, long days -- including most of Mother’s Day -- at the lake.

“These people are fixers and when they go out in a situation like this they want very badly to bring about a positive resolution," said Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. "This is their passion.”

Crews using boats with sonar as well as scuba divers and aircraft couldn’t find any trace of the young ladies, so as of Monday the search is scaling back.

“It is transitioning now to primarily a search with aircraft from the air and we’ll also be using cadaver dogs," Sgt. Cannon said. "They’ll be taken out on the water in an effort to see if they can pick up any kind of a scent.”

The reason for utilizing the dogs is that if the girls did wind up in the lake and based on the time of year and temperature of the water, the thought is their bodies could surface anytime now.

Everyone involved is still hoping and praying for a miracle, but based on what search teams are seeing so far, the odds are that recovery is the most likely outcome at this point.