Missing Mt Laurel toddler found dead

Search and rescue crews walk out from the area of Spoonwood Lake in the Mt Laurel subdivision after the body of 2-year-old Ella Zeigler was discovered in the water on the afternoon of June 7. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

MT LAUREL — A missing toddler was found dead in a lake in Mt Laurel June 7.

Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry identified the child as 2-year-old Ella Journey Zeigler, a Mt Laurel resident. Divers found Zeigler’s body at 1:20 p.m.

Zeigler had been missing since approximately 6 p.m. June 6.

Curry said Zeigler was with her father and 4-year-old sibling at the lake the afternoon of June 6. Zeigler was not wearing a flotation device when she disappeared.

Zeigler was found in an area of the lake where the water was approximately 15-20 feet deep, close to where she was last seen, Curry said.

“It seemed to be an accident,” Curry said. “Everything indicates a tragic accident. All of us in this business see tragic accidents, and I wish I had the secret to keep it from happening.”

Ted Childress was one of the Mt Laurel residents who  joined with other community members to search for Zeigler.

“We met at the church this morning, and there were over 100 people, people from the area and strangers,” Childress said. “We divided into groups and grids to search for her. We had to search.”

In a press release from the sheriff’s office, Curry expressed his appreciation for numerous fire departments, citizens and response teams for their assistance.

“Everyone who helped search or provided water, food or lights was important, but I want to especially thank the members of the dive teams and the helicopter crew,” Curry said. “We all wanted this search to end differently and all were saddened by the outcome. Our thoughts and prayers will be with the family in the days ahead.”

The following organizations assisted with the search and rescue effort: Cahaba Valley Fire Department, Calera Fire Department, Hoover Fire Department, Shelby County EMA, Shelby County Coroner’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Calera Police Department, Hoover Police Department, Pelham Police Department, Alabaster Police Department, Alabama Department of Public Safety, management and residents of Mt Laurel, men and women of the Sheriff’s Office and Double Oak Community Church.