Search continues for missing boater on Smith Lake

UPDATE:  Thursday, July 11, 10:15 a.m.  According to Sgt. Chad Pate, Northern District Assistant Commander for ALEA's Marine Patrol Division, the search for Kelsey Starling, the missing boater, is continuing today.  Colbert County has first responders on scene today running the SONAR and underwater camera, and the Winston County EMA and ALEA Marine Patro are on site, as well.

UPDATE:  Wednesday, July 10, 10:03 a.m.  According to Sgt. Chad Pate, Northern District Assistant Commander for ALEA's Marine Patrol Division, North Alabama Search Dog has been utilizing cadaver dogs.  Alexander City Rescue Squad is here with a 360 degree imaging sonar.  It is placed on the bottom and gives a 360 degree image of the area.  ALEA Aviation conducted an aerial search this morning and will do the same this evening.  Smith Lake Task Force, Winston County EMA and ALEA Marine patrol Division are assisting in the search efforts. 

UPDATE:  Tuesday, July 9, 10:03 a.m.  According to Sgt. Chad Pate, Northern District Assistant Commander for ALEA's Marine Patrol Division, there are no new developments in the search Kelsey Starling on Smith Lake.  Christian Aid Ministries SAR Unit is still utilizing SONAR to try to identify objects that are on the bottom of the lake.  Divers are on scene to dive on targets that can’t be ruled out with SONAR.  Divers have already been in the water this morning searching.  ALEA Aviation flew over the area this morning to do an aerial search.  ALEA Marine Patrol boats are on scene.

UPDATE:  Monday, July 8, 12 p.m.:  According to Sgt. Chad Pate, Northern District Assistant Commander for ALEA's Marine Patrol Division, there are no new developments in the search Kelsey Starling on Smith Lake.  Christian Aid Ministries Search & Rescue Unit, Cullman County Sheriff's Office, ALEA Aviation and ALEA Marine Patrol are on scene.  The only new asset that is being used today is an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) that Christian Aid Ministries SAR unit brought down today.  It is being used to get a better image in the deeper water. 

 

SMITH LAKE - The Fourth of July weekend was tragic along Smith Lake, with two boating accidents occurring within a 24-hour period, resulting in one death, six injuries and a 26-year-old woman still missing.

The first accident occurred on Smith Lake Thursday night, July 4. The crash occurred in the Rock Creek area at approximately 10 p.m.  Kelsey Nicole Starling, 26, of Troy was a passenger in a 2012 Mastercraft wakeboard boat involved in the two-vessel crash

 The operator of the Mastercraft,William Jackson Fite, 23, of Decatur, was booked into the Winston County jail early Friday on a charge of boating under the influence. Four other passengers on the Mastercraft were transported for medical attention by emergency responders.

 One person was injured on the second vessel, a 2011 Harris Flotebote pontoon boat operated by Jodi Wallace Suggs, 50, of Decatur.

First responders with the Winston County Emergency Management, Haleyville Fire & Rescue, Smith Lake Task Force, Crane Hill VFD, Logan VFD, Helicon VFD, Dodge City VFD, RPS, Cullman County Sheriff's Office and Cullman County EMA have been searching for Starling since the accident occurred, but so far, she has not been found.

"We were able to rule out some locations but unfortunately, no recovery was made,"  Sergeant Chad Pate, Northern District Assistant Commander for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency/Department of Public Safety Marine Patrol Division said Sunday evening.

The search was expected to resume Monday morning.

The second accident occurred Friday afternoon, July 5, near the area of the Corinth Boat Ramp just east of Double Springs.  The boat involved was a 19-foot deck boat-style vessel.  A 12-year-old female was killed in the accident, with a 14-year-old male and 12-year-old female transported, with injuries.  All involved were from the Pontotoc County, Mississippi area.

Both accidents are under investigation by ALEA, which will provide updates as they become available.


See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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