The search for two Michigan people, who were reported missing Saturday, has come to a poignant end after their bodies were discovered inside of an inverted vehicle that was partially submerged in a creek, reported WNDU. At approximately 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, the family and friends of 26-year-old father-of-one Steven William Rough and Autumn Chantell Mehl, 29, both of Niles, reported the pair missing after they were last seen leaving Jay’s Lounge at around 2 a.m.
Lt. Trent Babcock with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department stated, “The deputies on the afternoon and midnight shift began conducting interviews with the people that called them missing, family members, last known people they were with and tried to backtrack their evening.”
“The midnight shift guys spent a lot of hours walking and looking for slide-offs and putting several miles on the car, trying to see if they located a slide-off or some kind of accident somewhere.”
A search team and an array of volunteers spent hours searching for the missing pair, but it wasn’t until 9 a.m. the following day that a white, overturned Toyota Camry was spotted partially submerged in a creek. It was later confirmed that the vehicle belonged to Mehl whose body, along with Rough, was discovered inside of the vehicle, according to the South Bend Tribune.
An autopsy later confirmed that the cause of death was drowning, however, Nile police officials are still unclear as to how Mehl’s vehicle ended up upside down in a creek. It is surmised that after the pair left Jay’s Lounge, the vehicle crashed and it flipped, landing in a Michigan creek.
Babcock stated that he believes “it is going to be very difficult for them to reconstruct it. One, because of the weather and the time that has passed and also because the amount of people that were on scene trying to help. I think it is going to be difficult for them but they do a great job.”
Mehl and Rough’s friends and family were stunned after learning that the pair was found dead inside of Mehl’s vehicle.
One of Rough’s friends, McCade Reese, stated that he “[c]ouldn’t believe it. It is a tragedy. It really is, it really is. I couldn’t believe it. I just thought he could have been somewhere in a hotel room instead of this. It wasn’t even 24 hours and they reported him missing and you know, I thought he just got a hotel room with a girl and hung out.”
— WOOD TV8 (@WOODTV) February 15, 2016
After their bodies were found, a vigil was held later that day at Niles-Buchanan YMCA, 905 N. Front Street, where Mehl, who left behind a husband and five children, worked as a Zumba instructor.
Pastor Jared Eckerley of Real Life Church said, “When you get this many people to show up on Valentine’s night, with snow and cold weather like this, it means something. There’s a lot of love in this space right here. We’re here to celebrate the lives and mourn the deaths of two people, Autumn and Steven.”
Several people spoke at the vigil, including Rough’s cousin Jeremy Diaz, who stated, “He never reached his peak. He still had something. He still had something to excel to. He had so much potential, just as a person. And for those of you that knew him, he had this smile. This wicked, fun, bright smile. It can light up a room. He was a wonderful person. He wasn’t perfect. But none of us are.”
Folks sharing memories of the two loved ones. Calling Autumn Mehl a “people-person” recalling her fun Zumba classes pic.twitter.com/BdzEQwbwvG
— Molly Jirasek (@MollyJ_FOX28) February 15, 2016
“We loved him. We loved him very much.”
Lacey Peters, who was Mehl’s friend for eight years, also spoke at the vigil, where she said, “She was THE best friend. She would give anything to her friends. And probably even to someone who was not her friend, just anybody in need. She was so generous and caring to everyone she came across.”
“She volunteered in the community, when she could, at any given opportunity. She gave her time and her love to everybody.”
Nile police officials suspect no foul play in the death of Steven William Rough and Chantell Mehl, but an investigation is underway.
[Image via Shutterstock]