Missing kayakers safe: Three boaters find way out of Smokies overnight
By J.J. KINDRED | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Three kayakers who had been reported missing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park since Wednesday were found Thursday afternoon, according to Park officials.
The boaters were identified as Ernie Montgomery, 48, of Vonore; Jonathan Proats, 46; and his son, Robert, 18, addresses unknown.
According to Park spokeswoman Molly Schroer, the men left Wednesday morning for a kayaking trip on Abrams Creek. Two of the men were in a canoe, and one was in a kayak. They were planning to travel several miles to Chilhowee Lake.
Schroer said one of the vessels apparently tipped over into the water, and the riders saw a path and decided to hike it out, which took all night.
Montgomery’s wife, Sherry, called Park rangers late Wednesday night when the men didn’t return from their trip.
On Thursday, as of 11:30 a.m., the three men were still reported missing. After hiking for several miles, the men ended up on some private property and went to ask for help at an unknown location.
The homeowner, who was not identified, drove them back to the Abrams Creek ranger station. They were reported to be safe and unharmed at about 2:45 p.m. Thursday.
“It was pretty much a self-rescue. We sent rangers up and down the creek,” Schroer said. “(The men) probably went about five to seven miles. I don’t think they even got tired of walking. It was some pretty rough terrain, and some really rocky roads. They must have had a really cold night.”
Schroer said family members and friends were sent on a jon boat and searched for 2 to 2½ miles and could not find them.
Park spokesman Bob Miller said there was a happy reunion with the family once they were found.