Raft trip to New Orleans cut short short in Baton Rouge

Monday, November 21st 2005, 10:37 am
By: News On 6

Many who've read the adventures of Huckleberry Finn have wondered what it would be like to float down the Mississippi River on a raft.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells talked with two young men who spent four months on the river heading to New Orleans, having the time of their lives. Brady Smith: "Ten guys with full riot gear, face masks, black armor, big automatic rifles, ten guys all pointed at our heads, ready to shoot."

That's how Brady Smith and Abyah Nath ended their great river adventure in handcuffs and at the point of a gun, but let’s go back to the beginning.

We first met them last spring. They had come down from Kansas with a raft to start their big adventure in Muskogee. The raft sank after a day and they spend a month working to finance a restart. In June they started again, heading down the Arkansas River toward New Orleans. Brady Smith: "It was pretty crazy."

They survived a huge storm before their first big stop in Little Rock, where they worked to finance supplies. "Once we had made 150 bucks it got stolen when we got robbed." They suspect one of the many river folk they met took it while they slept, so they stayed a little longer.

On the river again, they stopped in historic Vicksburg, Mississippi. While on a walk, Brady ran across 5 or 6 very angry men, they beat him pretty good. "Stomping and kicking me in the face, nothing but the face." An ambulance ride and a short stay in the hospital later, they were back on the Mississippi River heading south.

In Baton Rouge, near the Exxon refinery, they were apprehended by the Coast Guard and the local police as potential terrorists. As ridiculous as that may have been it probably saved them. Hurricane Katrina hit while they were in jail.

Now back in Muskogee where they started, they're ready to go again. "Oh yeah, oh, yeah, in a heart beat." They haven't made it to New Orleans yet.

Everything they had was confiscated by the authorities, so folks at Connors State College and Grace Episcopal Church are trying to help them start on their next adventure. If you would like to help, call 918-687-5416.