Kelsey Starling's body found after 3 month search

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- A 3 month search is over for a woman who went missing after a boating accident on Smith Lake in North Alabama. The Houston County Search Unit found Kelsey October 5th.

This team never gave up, the divers were determined to find Kelsey's body. But it took a special device and a lot of dedication.

"When we arrived we were handed a blue ribbon and it went on the bale of our boat," Chief & Board President of Houston County Rescue Unit, Ashton Davis said.

26 year old Birmingham teacher, Kelsey Starling was thrown overboard after a boating crash on Smith Lake, July 4th.

3 months and 1 day later, Houston County's Rescue Unit found Starling 140 feet below the lake's surface.

"After this was over Kelsey was brought home we saw that it was extremely important to memorialize her and a small gesture by just tying a ribbon to the base of the tree where she was found," Davis said.

Houston County's Rescue Unit traveled to Smith Lake 10 to 12 days after the initial accident conducting a four day search but were unsuccessful.

On their 4th trip, Kelsey's body was finally located, thanks to a remotely operated vehicle they call "Kelsey Blue."

"Deep Trekker ROV roughly the size of a basketball, it's less than half the size of the other ROV's that were available. Which allowed us to navigate through the entanglements much easier and it also has sonar capabilities, manipulation arm, and several lights," Davis said.

"Kelsey Blue" was purchased through a Go Fund Me account and several donations towards the search. But the search meant even more to Davis who graduated high school with Kelsey.

"Knowing Kelsey personally it brought an extremely meaningful connection to this recovery, I still had to maintain a level of professionalism and keep mind the safety and risk vs reward for the entire crew and all the members involved," Davis said.

And now that the search is over and Kelsey has been found, the family can have closure.

"It was a mixed of emotions from excitement to relief. It was still saddening, reality set in that this is finally over, we can bring closure to the family. but now its time to lay Kelsey to rest. it was a big overwhelming emotion come over everyone," Davis said.

Davis says that they couldn't have completed the search's without the support and help from the Starling family and friends.

Kelsey Starling was a native of Troy, Alabama and several people face criminal charges in the crash.

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