Adventures With Purpose (AWP), the US amateur search & recovery dive-team with a 2.4 million YouTube following, claims to have solved a high-profile missing-person mystery with its discovery of a teenager’s body in an eastern California lake.
The divers say they found 16-year-old Kiely Rodni yesterday (21 August) in an upturned Honda CRV about 4m deep in Prosser Lake near the town of Truckee – at a site that according to the police had already been searched.
The volunteer divers had begun their own search the previous day, initially avoiding areas marked as searched on a map shared with them by the police. According to regional sheriff’s offices some 20,000 man-hours had already gone into the official search, covering areas within 100km of where Rodni had last been seen.
The teenager had gone missing after attending an outdoor high-school graduation party attended by up to 300 people at a camp-site beside Prosser Lake two weeks earlier. She lived with her family about 20km away, and had last been heard from at 12:36am towards the end of the party, when she had called a friend to see if she needed a lift home.
When the AWP volunteers decided to use their boat to carry out sonar-scanning of inshore Prosser Lake sites, they quickly found a likely mark. One of the group, Nick Rinn, dived to confirm that the numberplate of the sunken vehicle matched that of the one Rodni had been driving.
The divers then informed the family and police, who later recovered the vehicle and body, although they have yet to officially confirm that it is that of the missing teenager.
AWP featured on Divernet in March, when its divers solved the 18-year mystery surrounding the disappearance of parcel-delivery worker Jimmy Amabile. They located his remains and SUV in a creek near Philadelphia.
The group responds to tip-offs from its YouTube and Facebook followers as well as requests from families nationwide to search inland waters in what the police consider to be cold cases – it is unusual for the divers to become involved in an ongoing official search.
Oregon-based Jared Leisek and Sam Ginn started AWP in 2019, operating from a campervan, and the group claims to have solved 23 missing-persons cases to date, as well as finding many submerged vehicles. It provides its services for free, with expenses covered by donations and merchandise sales and sometimes reward money.