Medical Examiner says "accidental drowning" in 16-year-old Kayla - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Medical Examiner says "accidental drowning" in 16-year-old Kayla Campbell's death

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A rock painted at Independence High School in honor of Kayla Campbell A rock painted at Independence High School in honor of Kayla Campbell
MINT HILL, NC (WBTV) -

WBTV has learned that the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner stated Kayla Campbell's death is "an accidental drowing".

The body of the 16-year-old was found just after midnight Thursday in a Mint Hill pond off of Sable Cap Road after investigators drained the pond.

Mint Hill Police Chief Tim Ledford tells WBTV the results of toxicology reports are pending.

On Thursday, hours after crews recovered her body, Lt. John Rowell of Mint Hill Police said "at this time the investigation is still open. We'll have to wait to see what the medical examiner's office tells us before we know where to go next". 

 Lt Rowell says "at this time I would tell parents you really probably don't need to worry. That's about all we can say. This is really just an unfortunate situation".

10 counselors were on hand at Independence High School Thursday to help students grieve. Campbell was a student at the school.

A rock has been painted in her honor and flowers are being placed at its base.

On Friday, everyone at the school will wear yellow ribbons to honor her memory at a planned vigil.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sky3 flew over the pond and investigators had installed four water pumps to drain the pond. 

Investigators say they received an offer from a local contractor to drain the pond, "so we took them up on the offer."  Police Chief Tim Ledford says they haven't received a specific tip about the pond. Chief Ledford says "we were just covering the bases".

This comes three days after 16-year-old Kayla Campbell went missing on Sunday afternoon.

"We need anyone to come forward who may have seen Kayla on Sunday between 3:00 pm-5:00 pm, specifically in the areas of Highway 51, Fairview Road, Lawyers Road and Bartlett Road where Kayla often rides her bike," investigators told WBTV on Wednesday.

Investigators say they're checking more than 100 tips as they trace Kayla's whereabouts over the weekend.

Workers at the Dunkin Donuts on Highway 51 in Mint Hill tell WBTV that Kayla was a regular customer. They told police she was there Saturday afternoon.

Brittany Spears says one of her Dunkin Donuts co-workers saw Kayla "when he was taking the trash out around 2pm. She had her bike with her and was using the wifi and asked it was ok".

The Dunkin Donut workers say the high school student seemed really happy. "She had her book bag with her up against the bike at the side of the dumpster". She was apparently online.

According to police, the Federal Bureau of Investigations' cyber forensic team is going over Kayla's cell phone and computer.

Investigators removed the computer from inside the home, family members told WBTV.

"Detectives received several tips throughout the evening and are following up on all calls that were received," investigators told WBTV on Tuesday morning.

Investigators searched the pond off of Pumpkin Way and Sable Cap Road for several hours on Monday, looking for Campbell.

A second search of the land around that area started on Tuesday as well.

Crews from Mint Hill Fire, Mint Hill Police, Charlotte Fire and West Stanly Fire arrived with search and rescue equipment on Tuesday morning.

Mint Hill's Fire Chief  told WBTV that more than two-dozen firefighters and police officers went out in a wooded area to look for the missing teen, or any of her personal belongings.

They searched the ground between Interstate-485 and Bartlett Road on Tuesday, WBTV learned.  On Monday, crews searched an area south of that area and are picking up where they left off.

This area is nearly a 1/2 mile from the pond crews searched on Monday.

Tuesday afternoon crews conducted a second ground search. Police say they received a tip to check the Stonebridge subdivision near the Campbell's home.

The search did not yield any new evidence to assist investigators, WBTV learned.

According to investigators, the total area searched the past three days covered approximately 7 – 8 square miles.  At this time no new ground searches are planned. 

Officers were called to a home along Dartmoor Place around 6 p.m. on Sunday where Campbell's father told officers that she was supposed to return home around 5:15 p.m.

Minutes before she was scheduled to arrive home, she called to say she was five minutes away but never showed up.

Lt. Rowell says detectives have been "retracing phone numbers, calling people she has spoken to over the weekend - friends, civic organizations, anything she belongs to - just trying to trace what her state of mind was over the weekend, who she was with".

Meanwhile family and friends mounted their own search for Kayla.  About 25 volunteers fanned out in the Mint Hill area with posters and flyers.

Neighbor Cindy Satink said they were "putting up flyers, talking to different business owners, knocking on doors, covering wooded areas, putting mailbox stuffings with pictures of Kayla on it".

Kayla's brother, Josh, told WBTV Monday night his family just wants Kayla home safe.

"She's a great kid, couldn't ask for a better sister," he said. "All we want right now is for her to come home safe and unharmed."

Campbell also admitted Kayla was battling depression but that things were looking up.

"Kayla was getting better," he said. "She was working with professionals who were getting her the helps she needs and she was getting better."

Searchers pulled a bicycle out of the pond Monday afternoon but it is unclear if it belonged to Campbell.  They told WBTV they were able to find several other items that belonged to the teen, but did not find her.

Detectives also said they don't suspect foul play but are running down every lead to find the missing girl. They also told WBTV they had received nearly 30 calls Monday in regards to Campbell.

She was last seen at the house around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

Dozens came out for candlelight vigil for a missing teen Tuesday night.

Friends, family members and even strangers gathered near the pond where investigators searched for Campbell.

Mindi Gerrard organized the vigil. She doesn't know Kayla but says that doesn't matter.

"She is the same age as my daughter and it's just kind of heartbreaking," she said. "I thought about my own daughter missing and what I would do if I were in their shoes."

Gerrard also said it was a way for the community to show its support to Campbell's family.

"There's a lot of caring people in Mint Hill. I just think they were feeling like me thinking it could have been their child."

A visitation is set for Kayla on Saturday, December 15, at the Next Level Church, located at 4317 Stevens Mill Road in Matthews, at 11 a.m.

The funeral will follow the visitation at noon.

Kayla's family asks that in lieu of flowers, checks can be made payable to the Next Level Church in honor of her memory.

Anyone with information that they feel will be helpful is encouraged to contact the Mint Hill Police Department at (704) 545-1085.

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