SPANISH FORK — A search that resumed Thursday morning for two teenage girls reported missing on Utah Lake was expected to continue throughout the night into Friday.
The teens are feared to have been caught up in an intense storm that rolled through the area Wednesday. Priscilla Bienkowski, 18, and Sophia Hernandez, 17, both of Saratoga Springs, went to the Knolls area of Utah Lake near state Route 68 about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Utah State Parks boats were going to continue searching for the girls overnight, while Utah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue personnel would return Friday morning to continue searching if necessary.
Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said investigators confirmed that prior to going to the lake, the girls purchased two items that he described as pool toys and not floatation devices that could be used for safety.
About 8 p.m., a man who was fishing on the shoreline heard one of the girls’ phone ringing and answered it, Cannon said. It was the mother of one of the girls looking for her daughter. When the fisherman told her that he had not seen the girls but all of their personal belongings were still on shore, the mother then called police.
Officers found the girls’ car still parked nearby and their items on the beach. A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter searched the lake using an infrared camera until about 3 a.m. Thursday, Cannon said. A large number of searchers were covering a wide area of the lake later this morning. A boat with sonar was being used, a fixed-wing plane was flying overhead, and wildland firefighters who currently have free time were searching the shoreline.
The girls’ two floatation devices were found on the lake about 3 miles apart, Cannon said. Searchers fear the girls were on the lake when a heavy storm rolled through the area Wednesday afternoon. At least one officer reported seeing waves as large as 10 feet, he said.
The temperature of the lake was 57 degrees Thursday morning, according to Cannon. He said storms on Utah Lake are notorious for coming on quickly.