The body of a 27 year kayaker Isaac Ludwig was found this morning in the Great Smoky Mountains national park about 1,000 feet downstream from the confluence of the Road Prong and the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River.
Isaac Ludwig of Hartford, Tennessee and 2 other kayakers 23 year old Jared Seiler of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania and 24 year old James Donahue of Nashville Tennessee entered the Road Prong River near the Chimney Tops Trailhead and planed to kayak the rain swollen body of water and rapids on the lower section of the Road Prong and take their kayaks out of the water before they reached the West Prong.
Once in the water Jared and James very rapidly assessed that the water was running too swift and pulled their kayaks out but Isaac tragically pushed on downstream.
Isaac Ludwig was an experienced kayaker who worked for Rafting in the Smokies and did in fact have the appropriate safety gear of a life vest and helmet on while he was in his yellow Liquid Logic whitewater kayak.
Amazingly another kayaker who was unrelated to this accident lost a similar boat of the same color which was found wrapped around a tree near the Chimney Tops Picnic Area.
Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers and Gatlinburg Fire Department's Swift Water Rescue Team were involved in a search effort but the body of Isaac was found above the water line entangled in vegetation by 2 other kayakers who were running on the river which had dropped about 2 feet since yesterday.
The recovery of Isaacs body in now ongoing and is quite difficult given the surrounding terrain and the fact that there are no hiking trails near where the body is located.
While working at scout camp Isaac was taught to roll a kayak by his father at age 16 and had a driving passion for the sport. He owned at least 5 boats and by his own admission was not a stranger to having to repair damage to his boats from smashing into rocks.
Isaac had an interest in clean water environmental issues and in his free time wrote for a magazine called Sidetracked which promotes adventure sports. He was also involved in environmentally friendly kayaking products.
After car accidents, accidental drowning is one of the most common causes of serious injury or death to visitors of the Great Smoky Mountains national park.
Commonly after large rainfall many kayakers take on the streams and rivers of the Great Smoky Mountains national park. While many put in along the roadside of Little River, some will hike deep into areas to put in. For examples some as much as 5 miles or more in Deep Creek NC to brave the rapids where a swift rescue is virtually impossible.