You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Police and fire

  • Video shows mom punching boy, 14
    A Grabill woman faces criminal charges after police said she was recorded on video punching her 14-year-old son in the face and stomach and unleashing a tirade of vulgarities at him.Meagen T.
  • Mother faces felony after bruises on son
    A Fort Wayne mother was charged with a felony after accusations she hit her child hard enough with her hand to leave significant bruising, including fingerprint impressionsLindsay Olson, 28, of the 2700 block of Witchwood Drive, was
  • Woman walking on Werling is robbed
    She was targeted and robbed because she walked alone at night.One man grabbed her, held something against her back and told her to shut up while another man rifled through her pockets and stole her cellphone.
Advertisement

School mourns death of teacher

Woman fell off boat and drowned Sunday

For some children, Natalie Zellers’ reputation preceded her.

That’s why they came through registration at Washington Center Elementary on Monday with tears in their eyes, knowing that they were supposed to have her for a teacher but never would.

Some who already had the 38-year-old for second grade also cried, as did her co-workers, knowing there would be a void at the school this year.

“Natalie was just a super cheerful person,” Washington Center Principal Dee Dee Larkey said.

Zellers fell from a boat in Silver Lake on Sunday evening, went under the water and never resurfaced. Divers pulled her body from 22 feet of water three hours later. Investigators are still looking into what caused her death.

Counselors from the Boen Center were on hand Sunday and Monday to help console her co-workers. The school is currently figuring out a plan to help with the students, who begin school in about two weeks.

Zellers taught second grade at Washington Center for four years. Before that, she taught at Maplewood Elementary.

“She cared about her school and cared about her classroom,” Larkey said, adding that she treated the children in her classroom as if they were her own.

Natalie’s husband, Brett, would even come to her classroom dressed as Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat and read to her students, Larkey said.

She was with her husband at Silver Lake when she died.

The Zellerses were swimming from a boat at the north end of the lake at around 6 p.m. Sunday while wearing life jackets, according to the Indiana Department of Conservation. The Zellerses swam back to the boat and, upon climbing into it, took off their life jackets. Natalie was standing on the front of the boat when she somehow fell backwards into the water, according to the DNR.

Brett attempted to rescue her while others called emergency dispatchers.

Conservation officers used sonar technology to locate her body at the bottom of the lake and divers pulled her body from the water about 9 p.m.

Several other law enforcement agencies also helped in the attempted rescue.

An autopsy has been performed but Zellers’ cause of death has not been released.

“We are looking into alcohol as a possible factor,” said Officer Jonathon Boyd of the DNR. “People were drinking, so we’re investigating that as a possible cause.”

jeffwiehe@jg.net

Advertisement