Family Confirms Memphis Couple Caught In Gatlinburg Wildfires Died

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Memphis Couple Missing In Gatlinburg Wildfires_76155517-159532

UPDATE: According to family, Jared Summers was released from the hospital Thursday night.  His twin brother Wesley and brother Branson are still recovering in the hospital.

UPDATE: The Summers family says the Sevier County Sheriff Department confirmed Thursday afternoon the bodies of Jon and Janet Summers were found in the North Chalet Village.


Among the missing in Gatlinburg after the wildfires, is a couple from Memphis – architect Jon Summers and his wife, Janet. The couple along with their three sons, Branson, Wesley, and Jared, were vacationing in the city. The three sons are in critical condition with severe burns. Jon and Janet are still missing.

The family was staying near chalet village less than 2 miles from downtown Gatlinburg.

Those who know the family are praying for the best. They speak fondly today of the Summers as a couple, as parents, and as strong supporters of many Memphis causes.

“Incredible individuals, both of them,” says Catrina Guttery. For Guttery, the news her friends Jon and Janet are unaccounted for in the east Tennessee wildfire still doesn’t seem entirely real.

“Janet and Jon have been supportive to their sons through everything, so it’s just gut wrenching to hear of this this morning,” says Guttery.

Guttery met the couple and their children in 2009 through the Memphis music foundation. “They would be right there with their sons, just, you know, helping them along the process, through the music industry, just warm, kind, generous folks,” she says.

While anxious, Guttery is also holding out hope, and sending this message to the summers family. “Janet and Jon, we love you so much, we are praying for you, we know this story is going to have a positive happy ending, Memphis is supporting you and sending you positive vibes.”

Branson Summers and twins Jared and Wesely Summers were rescued from the fire. They all play music together in a band called “Renaissance Fair.” Right now, all three are in critical but stable condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Friends of the family describe the Summers brothers as being fun loving and the life of the party everywhere they go.

“Back when the brothers lived here in Memphis, my band and their band played a lot of the same shows together,” says Josh Dunning. “It’s wild you know. It’s one thing to see something on TV but when you actually know the people it’s hits home a lot harder.”

Friends tell Local 24 Branson Summers is 23-years-old, and twins Jared and Wesley are celebrating their 22nd birthday Wednesday. The family went to Gatlinburg for a quick getaway and to celebrate that birthday.

Friends tell us, Branson and Wesley live and work in Nashville. Jared had recently moved back to Memphis to work at a downtown restaurant. All three brothers previously worked at Hog and Hominy restaurant in east Memphis.

The brothers have worked at restaurants in Memphis and Nashville, but friends say they had their hearts set on playing music.

“They were always just the nicest guys to be around, always smiling ready to have a good time,” says Dunning.

Friends say all three brothers suffered smoke inhalation but are improving. The brothers regained consciousness and are in good spirits, trying to communicate.

Friends of the Summers family set up a Facebook page to share thoughts, comments, and any updates.

The family of Jon Summers released the following statement Wednesday afternoon.

“The Summers boys are stable, and one of them has been able to talk briefly and share his feelings and concerns for his brothers and parents. We have family and friends coming in from all over the country to be here with us. So many have expressed the desire to assist, and a website has been set up for the benefit of the boys.We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support by so many people, and look forward to the continued recovery of Branson, Jared and Wesley. We continue to pray that Jon and Janet are found and we thank everyone for your kind thoughts and prayers.”

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