One year later, the dive team that found Kelsey Starling’s body has a message this Fourth of July

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Fourth of July weekend marks one year since a fatal boating accident on Smith Lake that claimed the life of Kelsey Starling. The three-month recovery effort took the help of more than a dozen teams, volunteer divers, and specialty equipment.

CBS 42’s Malique Rankin spoke to the dive team that recovered Starling’s body. Today, they have a message for anyone spending this weekend on the water.

“Life is fragile and all it takes is one mistake. It takes a split second for the most unimaginable thing to happen,” said Ashton Davis, president of the Houston County Rescue Unit.

Davis went to high school with Starling, where he was a football player and she was a cheerleader. He said when he remembers his friend, it’s her bright energy that comes to mind.

“Just her love for life, her glow, she was always smiling,” he said.

Chris Ball was the diver who found Starling’s body in Smith Lake nine months ago. He said his job is a sobering reality to how quickly a situation can turn.

“People don’t think about what we do until they need us. A lot of these things are preventable, just by being careful when you’re out there on the water,” Ball said.

Ball didn’t know Starling, but learned through the Smith Lake community about the the impact she had.

“I didn’t know her at all, I had never met her before,” he said. “But I could just tell, between her group of friends, and her family that she was a very important person in a lot of peoples’ lives and she had a bright future.”

The divers with Houston County Rescue Unit said they use every last resource in each search they conduct. But, their hope is that this Fourth of July weekend, they won’t be needed.


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