Two bodies were pulled from a murky pond in Chaska late Sunday, bringing a frantic two-day search for two 19-year-old cousins and best friends from Shakopee to a tragic end.
Family members and friends of Bushra Abdi and Zeynab “Hapsa” Abdalla held an agonizing vigil late into the freezing night at the site near Hwy. 41 and White Oak Drive where divers located a car that had been carrying the two women.
After several hours of searching the pond, police and firefighters announced via loudspeaker to the crowd of several hundred people, many of them from the Somali-American community, that one body had been found in the still-submerged car. Soon after, they announced that a second body had been found in the water nearby.
Although authorities did not officially identify the recovered bodies as those of Abdi and Abdalla, family members said that they were told they were almost certainly theirs. No foul play was suspected, they said.
Authorities set up a tent to shelter family members at the scene and urged others to go home, telling them that the recovery operation, which began after searchers found tire tracks leading from Hwy. 41 into the pond, could go on overnight.
The car had not yet been pulled from the pond as of 10:30 p.m.
Still, dozens remained gathered at the site, many embracing one another and wiping away tears.
Missing after work break
An urgent search arranged by family and friends began after Abdi and Abdalla left their workplaces just before 3 a.m. Saturday during a break. Minutes later, they called 911 for help — then their phone went dead.
The two were last seen in a 2006 gray Chevrolet Impala that belongs to one of the women’s families, according to Habsa Abdi, Bushra’s sister.
Habsa Abdi said Abdalla, who goes by Hapsa, drove from her workplace at Amazon to a Chaska nursing home where Bushra worked.
After driving about 15 minutes to Chaska, Abdalla called Bushra at 2:47 a.m. to say she was outside the Chaska Heights Senior Living facility.
Sometime after that, Bushra’s phone turned off.
Habsa Abdi believes the two went to a convenience store to get snacks and that something happened to them along the way. She noted that one of the Impala’s windows didn’t go up.
Police said that the 911 call, which came from Carver County, recorded someone saying, “Help me!” Habsa Abdi said.
“I don’t think that they ran away because that makes no sense whatsoever,” Habsa Abdi said. “Knowing these girls at this hour … they were returning back to their jobs.”
Bushra left her wallet and identification at work, probably taking cash with her, her sister said.
Habsa Abdi said both women were working the night shift, which pays better than other times of day, to make money to buy their own cars.
Rahma Abdalla, Zeynab’s oldest sister, said community members gathered at the Chaska Event Center on Sunday evening to launch a search for the women on foot and in cars. Later, when the tire tracks leading into the pond were found and the search became concentrated there, they gathered at that site.
The crash remains under investigation by Chaska and Shakopee authorities. Early Sunday, Chaska police said on social media that they were “appreciative and supportive of the CAIR-MN [Council on American-Islamic Relations] public appeal for any information that anyone can offer in this matter.”