Hickman, KY – Hickman Police Department (HPD) Officer Rodney Smith died in the line of duty on Saturday morning as he patrolled a heavily flooded roadway.
Searchers located his body in a flooded field, following a massive overnight search, investigators said.
Officer Smith, 45, was on duty on Friday night when he contacted a dispatcher at 9:15 p.m. to report that he needed a tow truck for his patrol vehicle, which was in a ditch off the roadway, Hickman City Manager James Gray told The Seattle Times.
A short while later, he contact the dispatcher again, and said that his patrol car had been swept away by in the floodwaters of a creek. He said that he exited the vehicle when it began to sink.
A witness reported having seen the officer climbing onto the roof of his vehicle before he and the SUV were swept away in the current, KFVS reported.
Emergency personnel from over 20 agencies searched for the officer overnight, and ultimately located both him and his vehicle at approximately 5 a.m. on Saturday.
Officer Smith was pronounced dead at the scene by the Fulton County coroner, Kentucky State Police Detective Jody Cash told The Seattle Times.
A subsequent preliminary autopsy indicated that he died from drowning, WPSD reported.
“As many of you are aware the City and Police Department of Hickman suffered a tragic loss of one of our finest Rodney Smith last night,” the City of Hickman posted to Facebook on Saturday. “Rodney was not only an exceptional officer. He was also a dedicated and loving father and husband, a new edition to our community with a desire to be involved beyond just his job. He was intelligent, funny, and supportive of his friends and co workers. He will be sorely missed.”
Officer Smith had been with the Hickman Police Department (HPD) for nearly five months, Gray told The Seattle Times. He previously worked for the Mayfield Police Department (MPD) for several years.
“He was invested in being a part of the community,” Gray told WPSD. “A family man. He was very proud of his children, always talking about them…Everybody in the community liked him. I know there are a lot of people that are hurting and a lot of people that are trying to make sense of it.”
Officer Smith, a married father of six, is also survived by three grandchildren and his mother, according to his obituary.
He will be laid to rest on Tuesday, KFVS reported.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hickman Police Department Officer Rodney Smith, both blood and blue. Godspeed, we will take the watch from here.
Thank you for your service.