Remy Noel, father of Chelsea Noel, 4, talks about rescue efforts to recover his daughter, after she went missing Dec. 2, 2017, in Port St. Lucie. LEAH VOSS/TCPALM
PORT ST. LUCIE — The body of the missing 4-year-old autistic girl was retrieved from a pond early Monday, police said.
At 1 a.m., a dive team pulled Chelsea Noel's body from a pond blocks from her home in southern Port St. Lucie.
Divers were called after a search team in a kayak saw what appeared to be a small body submerged in the water near the shorline. That was at 11 p.m. Sunday. The team included a U.S. marshal and another officer involved in the day-long search.
"It is tremendous tragedy," said Police Chief John Bolduc after informing her parents. "The family is very distraught ... It is the biggest tragedy I can think of."
Chelsea was last seen around 9:50 p.m. Saturday, just before she left the home in the 4600 block of Keats Street.
Her father, Remy Noel, immediately called police, who began a non-stop search involving dozens of officers, divers, a helicopter and search dogs, said Police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sabol.
The FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Martin County Sheriff's Office voluntarily helped with the search that went door to door and looked through vacant lots and ponds and a main canal south of Chelsea's home.
Community members also joined in the search.
"I can't say enough about the cooperation of the community and law enforcement," Bolduc said.
Dogs sniffed her clothing to get a scent but they could never trail her, police said.
After looking at neighborhood security cameras, searchers got an indication of where she went. During the day, searchers in a boat used side scanning sonar. At night, a flashlight illuminated the Chelsea's clothing near the shoreline and divers were called in, Bolduc said.
Chelsea's body was found in a pond at Halmark Street and Abacus Avenue. An autopsy will be done.
Port St. Lucie Police Chief John Bolduc said finding Chelsea's body in a nearby pond was a "tremendous tragedy for the community and the family." VIDEO CONTRIBUTED BY PORT ST. LUCIE POLICE DEPARTMENT