After tragedy, family thanks supporters

Published 11:13 am Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dear Editor,

This is a simple but deeply heartfelt thank you from the family of Joey and Colleen Zeigler of Mt Laurel and our extended families, the Zeiglers of South Carolina and Georgia and the Lentzes of South Carolina and Minnesota.

Late afternoon on Monday, June 6, 2011, tragedy befell the family when 2-and-a-half year old Ella went missing by Spoonwood Lake in the community of Mt Laurel.

The responses of the Mt Laurel, Shelby County and greater Birmingham communities were nothing less than breathtaking. In short order, officers from the Shelby County sheriff’s and fire departments were on the ground scouring the woods surrounding the lake; an Alabama State Patrol helicopter was searching the same area from the skies using infrared technology; and dive teams from several local jurisdictions immediately and tirelessly joined the search effort. Mt Laurel residents and employees of Whole Foods also joined in the search.

Indeed, there are simply too many individuals to thank in a single letter, but the following is a list of the organizations that helped our families in the search effort: Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Shelby County Law Enforcement Chaplain’s Association, Shelby County Coroner’s Office, Alabama State Troopers Helicopter unit, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Hoover Dive Team, Calera Dive Team, Cahaba Valley Fire and Rescue, Shelby County EMA, Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force, Shelby County CERT, Alabaster Police and Fire Departments, EBSCO Industries, the town of Mt Laurel, Double Oak Community Church, Chelsea COPs (Citizens on Patrol) and K9 Specialty Services of Alabama.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s office provided a very caring team to support the family during the search. And when dive teams found our dear Ella’s body early afternoon Tuesday, June 7, 2011, the Sheriff’s office and the entire Mt Laurel community grieved with us and our family in our loss.

In the wake of that loss, our new friends in the Mt Laurel community quickly stepped forward with love and support. This, despite the fact that we had just recently moved to the area.

The town of Mt Laurel, its residents and Double Oak Community Church let us know that we were part of their family. The town and residents promptly began delivering food, water and other necessaries and opened their homes to our extended family members. They showered the family with love and support. And perhaps most importantly, they offered their heartfelt thoughts, prayers and condolences in what can only be described as an emotionally devastating time.

We were amazed that in these hectic modern times people still care about their neighbors — but they do.

In short, we simply cannot thank local officials and all of the other groups listed above enough. All of you have our heartfelt gratitude.

The unconditional love and support of the Mt Laurel, Shelby County and Birmingham communities will help us as we struggle to get on with our lives. We love you and thank you.

Joey, Colleen, Skyla, and Lily Zeigler, the Zeigler Family, and the Lentz Family