In early August, our close-knit Truckee/North Tahoe community was rocked like never before when 16-year-old Kiely Rodni went missing from a party near Prosser Family Campground. Truckee is a big little town in which everyone is connected. If you did not know Kiely personally, it’s practically a given that you know someone who did.
There are a lot of emotions running through the community right now, and we at Moonshine are feeling the pain, too.
It wasn’t long before news of Kiely’s disappearance spread across the nation and even as far as the United Kingdom with flashy headlines and social media posts sensationalizing her case. With that, came the trolls. Our culture, our way of life here in the mountains, was quickly under a microscope as keyboard crusaders began not only to dissect Kiely’s disappearance, but also to pass judgment on everyone and everything involved in the search for her.
Just as quickly as those headlines spread, however, they faded with the discovery of Kiely’s remains in Prosser Creek Reservoir. Although national news outlets and social media channels may no longer be thinking of Kiely and her loved ones, for members of our community, her loss weighs heavily, and it will continue to do so. Many of us are looking for some sort of closure, still trying to make sense of the loss of this beautiful shining light of a human being, as loved ones have spoken of her. And folks have taken to different ways of finding that closure, whether by going around town and taking down flyers, joining together to make music as did local artists the Dead Winter Carpenters, Angèle, Julie Brisbin, and Brooke Chabot and Rubicon Gold, or going into Truckee’s Cha Fine Teas, where Kiely worked, and ordering her favorite drink.
If there’s ever a time that we, as Truckee/Tahoe residents, shine, it’s when one of our own is hurting, in need, or at risk. I’ve personally seen what our citizens are capable of in times of need, and the effort to find Kiely was no exception. In the initial days after Kiely was reported missing, hundreds of residents from around the region came out to post flyers, form search teams, and organize efforts, asking, “How can we help?” People donated food and water to nourish volunteers. Dirt bikers, hunters, and off-road enthusiasts who know the mountainous roads inside and out hit the ground running, biking, and riding to search miles and miles of rugged terrain.
At the first press conference outside the Truckee Community Rec Center, a television news reporter questioned why there was such a massive showing and effort to find this one girl when numbers of teens go missing every day. “It’s Truckee!” someone from the crowd shouted. I could not have agreed more. I feel so blessed to be part of this amazing community.
Our thoughts, prayers, and positivity continue to go out to Kiely’s family and friends because the road ahead to healing will no doubt be a long one. So, the good people of Truckee/Tahoe, keep shining and doing what you do best by supporting the Rodni and Nieman families — and one another — in any way you can.