Jenna Borrayo, the 16-year-old girl reported missing from Coarsegold earlier this week, was found dead Friday afternoon inside her vehicle in a pond in Indian Lakes, Madera County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Bill Ward said.
There appeared to be no evidence of foul play, Ward said.
“This appears just to be a tragic event,” Ward said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends during this very difficult time.”
On social media, within minutes that news broke about Borrayo’s death, hundreds began to pour out their condolences.
“This is so sad,” said Shannon Koenen. “My heart breaks for this family having grown up with her dad and uncle. Prayers that this will get the community to love and support each other more and to help lost teens to find out how much they are loved and reach out.”
“This girl was in my Human Geo class and was a star,” said Chelsea Milliorn. “So kind, so, so smart, so fun ... this breaks my heart. Jenna, you were taken too soon. The world lost an amazing person.”
On Wednesday, a report was taken that Borrayo had gone missing. Friends said she was last seen inside her gray Dodge Dart around 10 p.m. Tuesday in Indian Lakes, a Coarsegold subdivision shortly east of Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino.
Ward said deputies searched several areas where Borrayo was suspected to be, but were unable to locate her Wednesday.
On Thursday, some of Borrayo’s personal items were located near a large pond in the Indian Lakes area, Ward said. Members of the Madera County Sheriff’s Dive Team responded and were able to check a portion of the pond, Ward said, but had to abandon the search due to darkness.
Deputies and volunteers with the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team were also called out to search the surrounding area near the water, Ward said.
On Friday, deputies went back to the pond and conducted an aerial search using a Remotely Piloted Vehicle, Ward said. Around noon, deputies discovered Borrayo’s Dodge in a previously unsearched area of the pond, Ward said.
At least an hour later, after sheriff’s divers responded, the vehicle was able to be extricated from the lake via a tow truck, Ward said. Borrayo’s body was found in the driver’s seat of the vehicle at that time, he said.
Borrayo was the sole occupant of the vehicle, Ward said.
Borrayo was a native resident of the Mountain Area, and attended several schools, including Minarets Charter High School, Evergreen High School, and Chawanakee Academy. She was recently enrolled at Ahwahnee High School, a continuation school in Yosemite Unified School District.
A Gofundme page has been set up to help cover funeral expenses for Borrayo’s grandfather, who friends say was raising both her and her 14-year-old sister. Click here to visit that page.
Friends said Borrayo was about to start a job at the Taco Bell in Oakhurst.
Toxicology results won’t be available until after Borrayo’s scheduled autopsy on Monday, Ward said. The investigation into her death is ongoing.
Editor’s note (March 11): The Gofundme link has been included, with some additional information.