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Hero Down: Baldwin County Deputy William ‘Bill’ Smith Dies While Rescuing Swimmers

Fort Morgan, AL – Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) Deputy William “Bill” Smith died in the line of duty on June 6 while rescuing two swimmers from the Gulf of Mexico.

Deputy Smith, 57, and fellow BCSO Deputy Sydney Wentworth were patrolling Fort Morgan beach when they spotted two distressed swimmers out in the water, Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack told WALA.

They immediately ran out into the water to rescue them.

Everyone but Deputy Smith made it back to shore.

“The fact that Bill was there, that Sydney was there, as quick as what they were is why we have two of the victims that are alive today,” Sheriff Mack told WALA.

The rescued swimmers and Deputy Wentworth were transported to the hospital, and Deputy Wentworth was released on Monday morning, WALA reported.

Deputy Smith was transported to a nearby medical facility, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

“Deputy Smith’s brave and swift response to save the life of another should cause us all to pause and reflect upon the sacrifice of all law enforcement,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall told ABC News.

“We can never repay Deputy Smith for putting the life of a potential victim ahead of his own,” Marshall continued. “Tonight, we offer our prayers to Deputy Smith’s family and his friends and colleagues in the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.”

Deputy Smith’s body was escorted from Robertsdale to Mobile by a police procession on Tuesday morning.

He served the BCSO for seven years, and had previously spent five years as a member of the SWAT team in Calhoun County, WALA reported.

Prior to his career in law enforcement, Deputy Smith served more than 30 years as a firefighter, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

He retired as deputy chief of the DeKalb County Fire Rescue in 2011, WAGA reported.

DeKalb County Fire Chief Darnell Fullum said Deputy Smith will be “fondly remembered in our department for his passion and dedication to the fire service and the resolute protection he gave to the citizens of DeKalb County.”

Deputy Smith leaves behind his wife and two adult sons, WALA reported.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy William “Bill” Smith, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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