Crews discuss hardships searching Smith Lake for Kelsey Starling


WINSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s been over two weeks since Kelsey 26-year-old Starling went missing following a boat crash on the Fourth of July.

While the search was suspended indefinitely Friday by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, new dive teams from around the state and from Florida have come in to help continue the search.

Despite their best efforts, crews continue to struggle to make way in the search due to the difficulties Smith Lake poses.

“It’s dangerous for even the most experienced divers that are doing then when you take into account that they’re going terribly deep,” Southern Skin Diver Supply co-owner Forrest Phillips said. “It’s unbelievable cold and there’s debris everywhere. These are brave people that are doing this.”

Smith Lake can reach depths of up to 200 feet in some areas and the temperature can get as cold as 40 degrees towards the bottom. Divers can also begin to absorb too much nitrogen the farther down they go.

Friends and family of Starling have started a GoFundMe page for her.

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