Missing kayakers in Smokies turn up safe

By News Sentinel staff

A rough day of kayaking led to a long night along Abrams Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Ernie Montgomery, 48, of Vonore and Jonathan Proaps, 46, and his son Robert Proaps, 18, (Lenoir City), were reported missing by family members Wednesday after they failed to return from their outing.

Park spokeswoman Molly Schroer said rangers were notified at about 2:45 p.m. today that the men were at the Abrams Creek Ranger Station.

"It was a rough journey. They lost their boats several times and found them this morning," Schroer said. "They paddled down some more, flipped again and when they saw a path, they decided to hike out."

Schroer said the path led them to private property and the homeowner gave them a ride the ranger station.

"They were fine and probably hungry. They had a cold night last night because they hadn't planned on spending the night," Schroer said. "There were a lot of family and friends to greet them at the ranger station, but didn't stick around too long."