PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Chanel Farrell Phillips had recently begun training for a career in real estate. Friends and family described her as outgoing and sweet.
But when the 23-year-old Palm Beach Gardens woman did not return home after a night out with friends last weekend, concerned family members went to police.
The search ended tragically Tuesday in Jupiter, as police found Phillips’ body in a submerged vehicle that went into a pond in the Mallory Creek residential area.
On Tuesday afternoon, just yards away from where the car was found, a group of Phillips’ friends consoled one another, some embracing and others fighting tears.
"She was a great girl, a lot of fun to be around, always the light of the party” said Mike Hambleton, 28, of Palm Beach Gardens. “When she entered the room, it was was always smiles."
Palm Beach Gardens police reported Phillips missing Monday after her family notified them that she didn’t come home early Saturday morning, after leaving a Palm Beach Gardens bar.
An officer was canvassing the community around noon Tuesday when he noticed tire tracks leading off the roadway and into the pond, said Sgt. Scott Pascarella, spokesman for the Jupiter Police Department.
Divers were called in and found Phillips’ 2001 Cadillac Deville. Police confirmed that Phillips was the only occupant.
The incident is being investigated as a single-vehicle crash. Police are awaiting the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death, Pascarella said. No foul play is suspected.
Hambleton noted that Phillips had started a new job and new chapter. "She was just starting the rest of her life," he said.
Phillips was last seen early Saturday morning in Mallory Creek, a residential community just north of Roger Dean Stadium.
Phillips’ mother, Cynthia Phillips, said her daughter messaged a friend on Facebook around 4 a.m., saying she had just dropped a friend off at his home and was on her way home to Palm Beach Gardens.
According to a GPS tracker, she was in the area of Mallory Creek when she sent that message, her mother said.
Cynthia Phillips also said a friend received a two-minute voice mail around 4 a.m. from her daughter’s phone number, however no one spoke in the message.
Cynthia Phillips called police Sunday because her daughter hadn’t been home to feed and walk her dog, something she always made time to do. Chanel’s friends also didn’t know where she was.
Phillips was out with friends Friday night at Renegades Country Western Bar in West Palm Beach and then at the Dirty Martini bar at Downtown at the Gardens off PGA Boulevard.
"This is a nightmare of nightmares," Phillips said.
Cynthia Phillips said her daughter was just beginning a career in real estate.
"She was in training,” she said. “She was all excited about it. She was working on her first contract."