Adventures With Purpose: Who are the divers who discovered body in search for Kiely Rodni?

Sonar technology helped team of six volunteers make significant discovery

Gino Spocchia
Monday 22 August 2022 17:28 BST
Kiely Rodni’s body found, volunteer group claims

A volunteer diving team has made a significant discovery in the search for Kiely Rodni after more than two weeks and tens of thousands of law enforcement hours spent searching for the missing teenager.

Adventures With Purpose (AWP), a group of volunteer divers dedicated to search and rescue efforts involving missing people, announced Sunday that it had found a car and body in California’s Prosser Creek Reservoir after police invited the group to help with the case.

“Car is upside down in only 14’ of water,” AWP posted on Facebook. “Family Notified. Law Enforcement on their way.”

In an update on Monday, AWP said it discovered a car matching Kiely’s license plate after less than 30 minutes of searching in the reservoir, with human remains inside.

While members of the Rodni family and the Truckee community await official confirmation of the findings, here’s everything you need to know about the divers and AWP:

Why was AWP founded?

AWP was founded in 2019 by volunteers wanting to dive for rubbish before transforming into a search and rescue diving team committed to helping families find their loved ones in cases of missing people, such as the Kiely Rodni case.

According to ABC News Australia, the group transitioned to helping find missing people about two years ago when they started uncovering clues to missing person cases. Today, there are six members of the team.

To date, the AWP diving team has solved 23 missing person cold cases and possibly a 24th case following the discovery of a car and body potentially belonging to Ms Rodni.

On YouTube, the AWP team has 2.44 million subscribers and its videos range from missing person cases to treasure hunting, as well as missing firearms found underwater.

When did they join the search for Kiely Rodni?

A diver for the AWP announced on 16 August – 10 days after Truckee teenager Kiely went missing – that they would leave their base in Oregon to join the search in north California.

Kiely Rodni with her mother Lindsey Rodni-Nieman
Kiely Rodni with her mother Lindsey Rodni-Nieman (Courtesy of Lindsey Rodni-Nieman)

Josh Cantu, a spokesperson for the group, told the New York Post that the police department in Placer County and other agencies had requested their assistance in the search for Kiely.

On 19 August, AWP arrived in Truckee and said it would start looking for Kiely while police began to scale back their own response,  the Sacramento Bee reported. The volunteer divers then began searching the water at Prosser Creek Reservoir by Sunday.

Mr Cantu said although police told the Prosser Creek Reservoir had already been covered by police in a “rigorous” search, his diving team located an object that shouldn’t have been there. That was the car and body potentially belonging to Ms Rodni.

“Police told us they did a rigorous search of this body of water,” AWP spokesperson Mr Cantu said. “They gave us a grid map and made us confident we didn’t need to search here.”

What tools does AWP use?

A diver for AWP told local news station KCRA-TV that the group’s sonar technology could have made the difference in the search for Kiely, whose cellphone was last traced to the edge of the Prosser Creek Reservoir on 6 August.

While law enforcement agencies deployed boats in the search, AWP used sonar radar tools to detect objects underneath the water surface – such as sunken cars.

Mr Cantu added to the Post that even Sonar technology can miss objects underwater if operators are not fully trained or experienced.

What did AWP find in Prosser Creek Reservoir?

Nick Rinn, a AWP diver, told the Post he found a body in a car within minutes of entering the water, and while it was close to the shoreline, it had not been visible above the water – only via sonar.

“I went down and did my inspection. I saw the vehicle upside down, verified the license plate and that there were remains in the vehicle,” he said. “Then I came out, we called the family and authorities and let them take it from there.”

Helicopters for KCRA-TV pictured the vehicle being retrieved from the Prosser Creek Reservoir
Helicopters for KCRA-TV pictured the vehicle being retrieved from the Prosser Creek Reservoir (KCRA)

Mr Cantu added: “Our sonar showed an object bigger than a rock that shouldn’t have been there. One of our divers went underwater and was able to identify a vehicle.”

Law enforcement were informed and the car containing a body was removed from the water on Sunday, when it was taken for analysis. Officials are yet to confirm if the body is Kiely’s.

What other cases have been solved by AWP?

Among the 23 cases the diving group has solved is the 2003 disappearance of Philadelphia father James Amabile, who was found in a lake in the state in March after his family said he experienced a diabetic shock before driving into the water.

At a press conference the day after a body was found in the search for Kiely, AWP said it would be joining another search in California for 22-year-old Jolissa Fuentes of Selma.

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