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Sylacauga Head Football Coach Chris Smelley missing in Gulf, search underway

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WALTON CO., Fla. – The Walton County Sheriff’s Office, along with other local and federal agencies are searching for Sylacauga Head Football Coach Chris Smelley in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to sources, Smelley, 37, went fishing early Thursday morning off Grayton Beach in a black and blue kayak and has not returned. Sources say he did not have a lifejacket or phone in his possession. He was wearing a camouflage swimsuit and an Orvis jacket.

 

 

Smelley took over the Aggies program in 2023 and led the team to a 2-8 record.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Coach Smelley and his beautiful family along with all search and rescue personnel as they look for him during this time,” said Dr. Michele Eller, Superintendent of Sylacauga City Schools.

Smelley and his wife have four children and were on spring break vacation.

If anyone spots Smelley in his kayak, you are urged to call (850) 892-8111 immediately.

6:00 p.m. update

In a Q&A livestream with Walton Co. Sheriff Michael Adkinson and fellow officials said the United States Coast Guard is conducting grid patterns on water as well as relying on air support. South Walton Fire District as well as Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are also involved with the search. The Office said it will continue to keep the public updated throughout the night of any developments.

6:05 p.m. update

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has joined in the search for Coach Smelley.

 

 

7:35 p.m. update

According to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, Coach Smelley “has been located safe by the United States Coast Guard out of Mobile.”

SylacaugaNews.com will continue to update this story as we learn more information.

 


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