Body of 4-year-old autistic girl found in pond near her home a day after she was reported missing

By JOE SHEPPARD FOR MAILONLINE

The body of a missing four-year-old girl has been found in a pond near her home, police have said.

Chelsea Noel, who had autism, sparked a huge search when she was reported missing after leaving her home in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Saturday night.

Authorities believe the youngster drowned after becoming disorientated and running straight into the pond.

The body of four-year-old Chelsea Noel has been recovered from a lake near her home

‘It is a tremendous tragedy,’ Port St. Lucie Police Chief John Bolduc said last night. ‘The family is very distraught…It is the biggest tragedy I can think of.

‘It looks like the child got out of the house and went right to this lake.’

Chelsea’s father Remy called police at around 9:50pm on Saturday after discovering she was no longer at their home.

Dozens of officers, sniffer dogs and a helicopter were involved in the search for the girl, who was described as a non-verbal special needs child.

Her body was recovered from the pond just three blocks from her home by divers, who were called after she was spotted by a US Marshall in a kayak at around 11pm last night.

Divers were called to recover the body after it was spotted by a US Marshall on a kayak

Authorities look for Chelsea's body in the pond. Dozens of officers were involved in the search operation which began on Saturday night

Chief Bolduc told reporters that although investigations were ongoing, Chelsea’s death was not being treated as suspicious.

He thanked officers and volunteers who aided the search.

‘I can’t say enough about the cooperation of the community and law enforcement,’ he said.

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