Day 7 search for Kelsey Starling cut short due to weather

Local News

WINSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The search for 26-year-old Kelsey Starling entered its seventh day Thursday. After beginning early in the morning, the search was cut short in the mid-afternoon due to rain and lightning.

Starling has been missing since being involved in a boating accident on Smith Lake the night of Independence Day. So far, she has not been found.

“We have been searching in the general area that we believe the impact occurred,” said Sgt. Chad Pate with the Marine Patrol Division.

Helicopters, boats, and sonars have all been utilized to search the waterways around Wren Rd., and while Starling has yet to be found, Pate tells CBS 42 that progress is being made. 

“Progress is finding an area, ruling it out moving onto the next one,” explained Pate. “So, yes, there’s been spots that have been ruled out. We’re just still working the area just like we were on day one. We’re doing the best we can and we’re still hopeful for a recovery each and every day.”

But Tropical Storm Barry continues to grow stronger in the Gulf of Mexico. While Alabama is not expected to be the recipient of a direct hit, the central portion of the state could still feel some of the effects, namely rain. 

In a previous interview, Pate described the search for Starling as “extremely difficult” due to the great depth of the water in the search area and the trees growing beneath the surface.

Rain, however, complicates things and makes an already difficult search even more difficult. 

“If it’s raining heavy and the wind’s blowing, it’s just going to get to where it will make it much more difficult to search and it’s just going to be best to wait for better weather,” said Pate. 

Any interference with the water, such as rain, can disrupt the sonar equipment being used, according to Pate. That’s why the Marine Patrol Division is urging all boaters passing by the area of Wren Rd. to maintain idle speed and minimize their wake in order to allow the search to continue without disruption.

Per Pate, the search for Starling will continue early Friday morning. 

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