Local man dies during kayaking trip
Monday, September 22, 2008 FRIES, Va. - A Mount Airy used-car dealer died during the weekend while kayaking on the New River, according to Virginia authorities. Elwood Owens Montgomery, 63, who owned and operated Montgomery Auto Sales on Starlite Road, was spending the weekend at a facility known as Camp Dickerson, located near Fries, along with his wife Cynthia. The two had been kayaking on the New River Saturday evening and Mrs. Montgomery returned to the campground to begin preparing dinner while her husband made one more trip across the river. He also planned to fish from the kayak, according to one report.
However, she became concerned after Mr. Montgomery did not arrive there in a timely manner and notified authorities about 9 p.m. By that point, the Mount Airy resident had been missing about two hours, and rescue crews set up a command post at Camp Dickerson as searchers in boats checked the river using flashlights. Meanwhile, others manned all-terrain and similar vehicles to look along the shoreline. About 10:30 p.m. Saturday, a kayak was found about a quarter-mile below Camp Dickerson, and about 30 minutes later, Montgomery's body was located near the kayak.
While the man was not wearing a life jacket, there were conflicting reports Monday about whether his death was due to drowning or possibly a heart attack while on the banks of the river after leaving the boat. No one was available to clear up that point Monday at the Grayson County Sheriff's Office, which was involved with the incident along with conversation police officers, or game wardens, with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Others assisting in the search included members of the Fries and Galax police departments, Virginia State Police, Baywood Search and Rescue, Galax and Independence volunteer fire departments and Independence Rescue Squad.
Funeral services for Montgomery are scheduled Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Highland Park Baptist Church in Mount Airy.