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An Alabama HS coach is safe after a scary kayak fishing journey

Talk about terrifying.

Sylacauga High School (Ala.) coach — and former NFL player — Chris Smelley went fishing a kayak in Florida.

He did not return, sparking fear.


“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.

This story has a happy ending, though, as Smelley was located on his kayak.


Smelley was spotted at 7:12 p.m. local time, nearly 11 hours after he disappeared, a little less than 12 miles off of Grayton Beach.

The Sylacauga coach was not showing any signs of distress when he was rescued and he was not transferred to EMS, the Coast Guard said. The agency was also not worried about Smelley having any medical conditions related to his ordeal.

Smelley spoke about his experience.

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