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Couple Arrested After Boat Crash Kills Beloved Alabama Teacher

The search for the body of Kelsey Starling continues as Jodi and Nick Suggs now face charges of criminally negligent homicide in Alabama.

By Eric Shorey
Kelsey Starling Fb

A boat crash that killed a young schoolteacher in Alabama on Independence Day has resulted in two arrests.

Jodi and Nick Suggs, both 50, surrendered to the Winston County Jail after being indicted for criminal negligent homicide Wednesday. The two were allegedly steering a boat on Smith Lake that crashed into another watercraft on July 4, killing 26-year-old Kelsey Starling. 

The indictment states that the death was caused by the Suggs' boat “striking the vessel [Starling] was aboard causing her to be thrown there from," according to AL.com.

An attorney for the victim's family released a statement following the arrests thanking those who have been supportive.

“We appreciate the tireless efforts of law enforcement and search personnel to locate Kelsey,” the family wrote. “We also very much appreciate the love and support we have received from so many individuals at Smith Lake and throughout our state. We have been especially touched by the blue Kelsey ribbons that have seemingly appeared everywhere in Alabama and states beyond. This has provided our family significant comfort.”

Starling had been riding as a passenger in a 2012 Mastercraft wakeboard boat driven by 23-year-old William Jackson Fite when the crash with a 011 Harris Flotebote pontoon operated by the Suggs occurred, authorities say. Four others were hospitalized as a result of the collision. 

Fite was later charged with boating under the influence and has since been released on $2,000 bond. He has not been considered implicated in Starling's death.

A search for Starling's corpse is ongoing and will continue until Friday, according to WBRC of Birmingham, Alabama. A GoFundMe page has been created to help raise funds for special equipment that would make finding her body easier.

Starling had been employed as a speech language pathologist at Tuggle Elementary School in Birmingham, Alabama. A memorial service was held in her honor on Aug. 10. 

The Suggs immediately posted $3,000 bond and were released the same day of their arrest, according to CBS 42 of Birmingham, Alabama.

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