Editors Note: On August 21, 2022 remains believed to be Kiely Rodni’s were found along with her vehicle, in the Prosser Reservoir. On August 23, 2022 the Nevada County Sheriff-Coroner confirmed the belief, identifying the decent as 16-year-old Kiely Rodni, of Truckee.
Kiely Rodni’s parents and family members looked on with stricken faces as Nevada and Placer County officials answered questions from the press at a morning briefing restricted to only journalists in Truckee on Monday, Aug. 22, one day after Rodni’s silver Honda CR-V was located under 14 feet of water in Prosser Reservoir.
The body located inside the car indeed was “probably” Rodni’s, said Nevada County Sheriff-Coroner Shannan Moon. “We believe it is our missing person,” she told the more than 20 members of TV, online, and print national and international press at the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District Community Rec Center the morning of Aug. 22. “We have not been able to positively identify, but it’s more than likely where we are today.”
When the press asked about the condition of the body found inside the vehicle, family members left the room. Officers said they could not comment on those details.
The incident is still under investigation, officers said, and thus facts released at this briefing were limited, including the condition of the body, the official identification of the remains found, the potential that another car was involved in the incident, and how the volunteer divers located the upside-down vehicle in the reservoir so quickly. Within 35 minutes, the volunteer divers from the group Adventures with Purpose, found the car, according to a video released earlier this morning — after law enforcement and volunteers had been searching the area to no avail for two weeks.
“That’s a question so many people will be asking,” answered Nevada County Sheriff’s Captain Sam Brown, who fielded most of the queries. He detailed that Prosser Reservoir had been “extensively searched” with sonar, divers, swimmers, and other mechanisms. More than 15,000 working hours had been devoted to the case, he said.
According to the briefing released by Adventures with Purpose at 9 a.m. this morning, Aug. 22, before the official press conference at 11 a.m., the car was found yesterday some 55 feet from the site of its last GPS ping at 12:33 a.m. Aug. 6. Divers entered the water at 10:40 a.m. and located the car at 11:15 a.m., according to diver Nick Rinn.
Brown emphasized the differences in experience and equipment between the Adventures with Purpose group and the agency resources used. “Tracking underwater is an extremely difficult thing to do,” Brown said. “So, part of our debrief is, ‘How do we figure out how to improve our services, work on our resources and the way that we use them? A lot of this equipment is high-end and very expensive, and you need to have a lot of practice and expertise. Adventures with Purpose is able to focus and practice those skills and really hone them. We’re appreciative that they could come out and locate it.”
When asked why the incident was at times portrayed as an abduction, Brown said, it was “never labeled as one,” but “you can never take that off the table,” he said. “We wouldn’t have received all the services and all the people if that hadn’t been an option.”
The resources that came to the search helped law enforcement cover myriad leads.
“I think they identified over 400 juveniles,” Brown said. “To interview all of those folks, and provide feedback off of all that, it takes an army of people, and we were lucky to be able to put that together.”
Later he added, “When you fly a helicopter over the air and try to identify something is there, most get a 5% probability of detection — you have trees, brush, dirt. It’s not that simple. It’s pretty complex.”
Brown said that family members are being kept in the loop as much as possible. “We’re not shielding them, but we’re also not bombarding them with things,” he said. “There are a lot of ups and downs throughout this investigation, a lot of emotional turns throughout the whole thing and our goal is to make sure we’re supportive of the family. We’ll do our best in that.”
Other questions from the press that the officers at this morning’s briefing declined to answer, citing the ongoing investigation, included: Were there signs of struggle in the car? Were there other car tracks indicating a collision? And was the car in that same spot since Aug. 6?
The car was removed from Prosser Reservoir last night, Aug. 21, and transported to a Federal Bureau of Investigation station where it will be inspected. An autopsy for Kiely Rodni is set for Tuesday, Aug. 23.
A widely circulated statement from the family of Rodni released today gave thanks to “the army of warriors, matriarchs, healers and helpers holding us up,” and that while they accept the “sadness cast under death’s shadow,” “Kiely will surely remain with us even though we will not get her back.”
The community grieves with the family.