Dive team searches pond for clues in missing doctor case

2011-03-31T18:45:00Z 2011-04-02T13:11:54Z Dive team searches pond for clues in missing doctor caseBy Vanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

MUNSTER | A search Thursday of a pond near the home of a missing ophthalmologist from Munster turned up only tires and bottles.

Divers from the Lansing Fire Department scoured Clayhole Lake, which is between Centennial Park and the subdivision where Dr. Promila Mehta-Paul lives.

"We're not going to rest until we bring her home," Munster Police Chief Steve Scheckel said.

Mehta-Paul, 70, was last seen making a deposit at a Highland bank March 21 after leaving her Highland office, 8219 Kennedy Ave.

Divers steered a small boat around Clayhole Lake for most of the day Thursday, using a specialized side view sonar to search the approximately 40-acre pond.

The device gathers images of whatever is underwater, from bottles to cars, Lansing Fire Chief Dan Gregorovic said.

"It's the perfect piece of equipment for this type of search," he said.

Scheckel said police had no specific indication that Mehta-Paul or her missing 2001 gold Toyota Rav4 -- with an Indiana license plate of DW2031 or a California license plate of 6LHZ319 -- would be in the pond. But because the water is so close to the doctor's home, authorities wanted to check it again.

The Toyota could have either license plate on it because Mehta-Paul's son's Acura was found in the garage missing one of its license plates, Munster Sgt. Steve Kovacik said.

The son, who is from California, has no idea where the plate is, Kovacik said.

The divers are part of a larger team known as the MABAS 24 Dive Team, which responds to incidents in the area.

Helicopters and horses have been used to search Centennial Park as well. Police searched her home in the 9000 block of Twin Creek Boulevard and the home of neighbors that the doctor was watching as they vacationed.

Investigators continue to comb through items that were recovered in that search, Scheckel said.

The doctor was embroiled in a 15-year fight with ex-husband Shashi Daman Paul when she disappeared, federal court records show.

Police have been in contact with all three of Mehta-Paul's sons and her ex-husband, all of whom are cooperating with the investigation, Kovacik said.

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