Archived Outdoors

Kayaker dies on Oconaluftee

The drowning occurred near Smokemont Campground. NPS photo The drowning occurred near Smokemont Campground. NPS photo

A kayaker died yesterday while paddling the Oconaluftee River near Smokemont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

At about 2:18 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24, friends of Megan Thompson, 34, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, notified rangers that she had disappeared underwater and did not resurface. According to witnesses, Thompson floated over swift rapids before being pinned between a fallen tree and the riverbank.

Park rangers and Tribal EMS Cherokee Fire and Rescue responded to the scene. At 2:57 p.m., responders freed Thompson’s body and removed her from the river, where she was pronounced dead by a medical examiner.

While rare, drowning is the third leading cause of death for the Smokies, after motor vehicle accidents and plane accidents. Thompson’s death marks the first fatality in the park for 2022 and the 61st drowning on record. For information on water safety in the Smokies, visit nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/watersafety.htm

Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.