Kayaker drowns in Oconaluftee River near Smokemont 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers were assisted by emergency responders from Tribal EMS Cherokee Fire and Rescue in the recovery of drowned kayaker, Megan Thompson, age 34, of Cleveland Heights, OH on Thursday, February 24, 2022.  

At 2:18 p.m., park rangers were notified by Thompson’s companions that she had disappeared underwater and not resurfaced along the Oconaluftee River near Smokemont Campground. According to witnesses, Thompson floated over swift rapids before being penned between a fallen tree and the riverbank. At 2:57 p.m., emergency responders freed Thompson’s body and removed her from the river where she was pronounced dead by the medical examiner. 

While rare, drowning is the third leading cause for death in the Smokies, following motor vehicle accidents and plane accidents. This is the first fatality in the park in 2022 and the 61st drowning on record. Please visit the park’s website for more information about water safety at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/watersafety.htm

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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