Search for missing doctor ends tragically

Pct. 1 Dive Team & Texas Equusearch

The search for Dr. Stephen Zella ended on Thursday. Just as feared, he drowned in Clear Lake where his empty kayak was found.

The Montgomery County Pct. 1 Dive Team was an important part of the search, traveling daily to Clear Lake to assist Texas Equusearch and other agencies.

February 26, 2009

Dr. Stephen Zella remains missing, despite a large number of expert searchers who have joined Texas Equusearch, including the Pct. 1 Constable’s Office Dive Team.

High winds hampered their search efforts on Wednesday, according to the TES website, and are anticipated to be a major issue on Thursday as well.

Groups assisting TES include:
* Nassau Bay Fire Department
* Nassau Bay Police Department
* Harris County Precinct 8 Constable
* Harris County Sheriff’s Office
* Galveston County Fire Department
* Galveston County Sheriff’s Office
* Kemah Fire Department
* Bellaire Fire Department
* Montgomery County Precinct 1 Constable Dive Team
* Texas Game Warden
* Legacy Offshore Group, Lafayette, Louisiana
* Silvetti Group, Lafayette, Louisiana
* Webster Fire Department
* League City Fire Department
* US Coast Guard
* Numerous volunteers and businesses from the surrounding communities for their time and donations of food

For more information or to make a donation to TES, visit:

February 25, 2009

The Montgomery County Pct. 1 Constable’s Office Dive Team joined Texas Equusearch on Monday in their quest to find Dr. Stephen Zella, who disappeared while kayaking in Clear Lake on Friday morning. Authorities said a passerby alerted the nearest kayaker after seeing a man who appeared to be drowning, and the second man tried to find Zella, but found his empty kayak instead. The 38-year-old doctor is a Clear Lake resident.

Multiple agencies responded to assist in the search on Friday, including area fire departments, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division and the US Coast Guard. Texas Equusearch joined the effort the next morning, at the request of law enforcement, and later solicited the assistance of the Pct. 1 Dive Team. Dive Master Vernon Miller readily agreed. The two entities have worked together many times in the past, making numerous recoveries under the worst of conditions.

Strong winds and excessive debris from Hurricane Ike on the floor of the lake have increased the difficulty of the task, even for the experienced and elite group that is conducting the dives and using sonar equipment in the search.

The Texas Equusearch website has a daily posting of their progress in the search and regarding the need for volunteers. The page says the organization’s founder, Tim Miller, has promised Zella’s family that Texas Equusearch will not give up.
A heartbreaking message from Zella’s children appears on the site with the updates.

The search will continue today.

Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

Note: The Pct. 1 Dive Team began in 1993 as a collaborative effort by Constable Don Chumley and Dive Master Vernon Miller.

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