Search for missing Sylacauga High School football coach underway in Florida

Sylacauga High School Head Football Coach Chris Smelley was reported missing in Florida Thursday morning.

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office said Smelley went fishing in his blue and black kayak around 8:30 a.m. in the Gulf of Mexico off Grayton Beach, but has not returned.

The sheriff’s office said it is searching the area along with the South Walton Fire District and have jet skis in the water.

The U.S. Coast Guard has joined the search with a small boat along with an NH60 Jayhawk helicopter out of New Orleans. The Bay County Sheriff’s office is also sending a helicopter to help in the search for Chris Smelley.

A spokesperson for the Walton County Sheriff’s office says there is a lot of daylight left and crews will be out overnight if needed. Public Information Officer Corey Dobridnia says the waters appear calm, but the way the wind is blowing it’s difficult for people to get back to shore.

Smelley last seen wearing a camo print swimsuit. He did not have a phone or a life jacket with him on the trip.

The sheriff’s office said Smelley’s outing was only supposed to be an hour. He was seen 9:30 am about 1.5 miles off the beach.

The sheriff’s office said Florida Fish and Wildlife has launched from the Inlet at Destin Pass and is heading east towards Grayton.

If anyone has any info on Smelley’s whereabouts, you can call (850)-892-8111.

Chris Smelley is a former University of South Carolina quarterback who played under coach Steve Spurrier during the 2006-2008 seasons. He was also on the University of Alabama’s baseball team from 2009-2010. Smelley is a Tuscaloosa native. He and his wife have four children.

Smelley began his coaching career as an assistant at Hillcrest High School. He was head coach at American Christian Academy before taking over at Sylacauga High School as head coach. Smelley also spent time as the quarterbacks coach at Hoover High School.