Law enforcement officials confirm missing teen’s vehicle found with body inside
TRUCKEE, Calif. — On Sunday afternoon, diving nonprofit Adventures With Purpose reported they’d found the remains of missing 16-year-old Kiely Rodni.
At a press conference Monday, Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon announced Rodni’s vehicle had been found inside Prosser Creek Reservoir and while not confirmed, the person found inside the vehicle is believed to be Rodni.
“We believe it is our missing person,” said Moon, who added that the vehicle was located within the zone that parties have searched since Rodni’s disappearance from the Prosser Family Campground at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6.
Roughly 200 to 300 teenagers and young adults from the region and as far away as the Bay Area reportedly attended a party in the area that night.
“It is an incredible show of how committed all of our agencies are for our community here,” said Moon. “The amount of effort that all of these agencies put together really, truly is why we’re here today.”
In total, law enforcement agencies from the local, state, and federal levels spent nearly 20,000 man-hours searching for Rodni. Ultimately, she was found, according to officials, a relatively short distance away from the party she attended that night.
“The lake was extensively searched with side sonar, with an ROV, we had divers, we had swimmers,” said Nevada County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Sam Brown. “I think that’s part of what we’re going to have to go back to do and debrief. When peace officers are out in the field and volunteers and searchers, it doesn’t mean they’re experts in the field. These are sometimes ancillary duties or calling from other agencies to try to jump in, and tracking underwater is an extremely difficult thing to do.”
Brown went on to commend the efforts from Adventures With Purpose in finding the vehicle.
“Clearly their expertise in diving, their equipment that they brought to the table assisted us, and we appreciate that,” he said.
Joshua Ehlers of California Highway Patrol said the department is conducting a fatality traffic collision investigation, and that, as of now, no foul play is suspected.
“This is a very popular area,” said Ehlers. “There’s a lot of foot traffic, a lot of vehicular traffic on and off road.”
The vehicle was reportedly found upside down in about 14 feet of water. Brown said it’s believed the vehicle has been in the reservoir since Rodni’s disappearance.
“On hindsight everything looks 20-20,” said Brown. “The reality is it’s not that simple. It is pretty complex and it’s tough … we’re just appreciative that the resources came out and were able to help us.”
Investigators said it was too early to determine if the person in the vehicle attempted to escape. An autopsy is planned for Tuesday, according to Placer County Sheriff’s Office Captain Troy Minton-Sander, and toxicology results should be available in four to six weeks.
Rodni was a recent graduate from Forest Charter High School in Truckee, and had planned on attending the University of California Santa Cruz.
“While we accept this sadness cast under death’s shadow, the rising sun shines light upon us, reminding us not to mourn our loss, but to celebrate Kiely’s spirit and the gift that we all received in knowing her. Kiely will surely remain with us even though we will not get her back,” said the Rodni-Nieman family in a statement.
“There are certain occasions when words fail. Perhaps this is why our human nature has given us art, dance, and music, which all are often more effective ways to connect us to each other and our rawest emotions. Kindly excuse us as we retreat and dance privately to life’s song while we celebrate our daughter’s spirit and heal our souls.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.