A body found in a northern California reservoir is believed to be that of 16-year-old Kiely Rodni, who went missing weeks ago after attending a large party at a Sierra Nevada campground, authorities said on Monday.
Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon told a press conference that the body had not yet been identified but “we believe it is our missing person”.
Volunteer divers with a sonar-equipped group called Adventures With Purpose said they had found Kiely, of Truckee, on Sunday inside her car, which they said came to rest upside down under about four metres of water in Prosser Reservoir, about 17 metres offshore.
Adventures With Purpose members Doug Bishop and Nick Rinn briefly described the search in a Facebook live-stream on Monday morning. Mr Rinn said they were limited in the scope of details they could release.
“Once we confirmed it was indeed Kiely’s vehicle we immediately notified family, law enforcement and [the teenager's] dad and grandpa were on scene within minutes,” Mr Bishop said.
Nevada County sheriff’s Captain Sam Brown said the law enforcement task force now needs to determine how and why Adventures With Purpose divers found Kiely’s body despite other searches in the area.
He said it was not yet clear whether the volunteer group had better equipment or more advanced training — or both — that the sheriffs' offices and other agencies may not have.
Mr Brown would not say whether there were any signs of foul play discovered in Kiely’s car. A postmortem is scheduled for Tuesday.
Kiely was last seen August 6 near the Prosser Family Campground in Truckee, attending a party with hundreds of young people, authorities said.
Her friend, Sami Smith, was at the party with her and said Kiely had been planning to spend the night at the campground.
“I know that she wasn’t in the right mindset or state to drive. And if she were to have driven, she wouldn’t have made it far,” Sami told KOVR-TV.
Friends and family feared she had been kidnapped. Her phone had been out of service since the party and her 2013 silver Honda CR-V had not been found.
Adventures With Purpose announced on Facebook that divers had located Kiely a little before 2.30pm on Sunday.
The group's YouTube page, which has about 2.5 million subscribers, features heavily edited videos of their cases, as well as footage of dives for underwater treasure, missing cars, boats and guns. The “episode” featuring Kiely’s case will be uploaded within a week or so, Mr Bishop said on Monday.
The team provides its services to families free of charge but relies on donations, sponsorships and merchandise purchases for funding.