Roughly one month after crashing into the swollen Alameda Creek, 18-year-old Jayda Jenkins has been found and positively identified, police said.
Jenkins, who was traveling from Tracy to Menlo Park on Jan. 21 when her car plunged into the raging torrent of water along Niles Canyon Road, was located late Thursday by a man walking his dogs along the Alameda Creek near Coyote Hills Region Park, police said. The Alameda County Sheriff's Department on Friday confirmed that the body pulled from the water was Jenkins, marking a moment of closure for the Jenkins family.
"They were relieved to know that we found Jayda," Alameda County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said. "They now can begin their closure to begin to start healing and begin to try to make sense of this tragedy."
Jenkins' body was found roughly 11 miles from the original crash scene, Kelly said. The location of the discovery was just two miles away from the San Francisco Bay.
Police said the original crash occurred when Jenkins' 2000 silver Honda Accord crossed the center divider on Niles Canyon Road, collided with a white Honda Accord and crashed into the creek, which was saturated and moving swiftly as a result of recent rainfall and runoff spilling from nearby reservoirs.
One of Jenkins' family members managed to spot the vehicle two days later during a search attempt. The following day, recovery crews removed the car from the water, but Jenkins was not inside.
The teenager's seat belt was found to be unfastened, and the car's windows were broken, police said.
Members of the Jenkins family and other community members — at times numbering more than 100 people — commenced numerous searches over the next several days, but their efforts yielded no results. Official law enforcement-piloted searches were limited after the crash because of dangerous water conditions.
Kelly added that search teams canvassed the lengthy stretch along the creek between the crash scene and the San Francisco Bay on multiple occasions, but they did not spot anything.
Jenkins just graduated from high school and was studying psychology at William Jessup University, hoping to become a social worker.