Elizabeth City, NC – North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice Correctional Officer III Helen Mae “Hank” Smith died in the line of duty on Feb. 3 after suffering a medical emergency following an incident with an offender, according to her department.
Correctional Officer Smith, 52, had responded to an unspecified “incident” in another area of the Pasquotank Correctional Institution at approximately 11 a.m. and was returning to her post when she began experiencing “medical distress,” DPS said in a press release.
Paramedics responded to the prison and rushed the ailing correctional officer to a local hospital, where she passed away several hours later.
Her exact cause of death has not been released.
Pasquotank Warden Daniel Everett described Correctional Officer Smith as a “terrific officer” who was “very dedicated and committed,” according to the press release.
“Our work family mourns with her family on her very tragic passing,” Everett said. “This is a sad day for us all.”
Correctional Officer Smith served the DPS for nearly three years.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Smith’s family during this difficult time,” Secretary of Public Safety Eddie Buffaloe said in the press release. “She had a great reputation and was dedicated to her job; this is a huge loss for our DPS family.”
Correctional Officer Smith leaves behind her husband, Tony, her children, Andrew and Samantha, and her five grandchildren, Carley, Lawson, Brantley, Olivia, and Liam, according to her obituary.
She is also survived by her brother and two sisters.
“She will be remembered as a wife, a fiercely protective mother, the best Mamaw, a sister and a best friend,” her obituary read.
RIP. Correctional Officer Helen Mae Smith suffered a fatal heart attack while responding to a disturbance at Pasquotank Correctional Institution. #rip #hero #endofwatch #thingrayline #CorrectionalOfficerHelenMaeSmith #NorthCarolinaDepartmentofPublicSafety #lawenforcement pic.twitter.com/qfr5Qchwaq
— Protecting the Blue (@protectingblue) February 6, 2022
Statement on Passing of Pasquotank Correctional Officer Helen Mae Smithhttps://t.co/NMFwo40dA6 pic.twitter.com/xqrZbarayP
— NC Public Safety (@NCPublicSafety) February 3, 2022
We are saddened to inform you of the death of Correctional Officer III Helen Mae Smith of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety – Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice in North Carolina.
End of Watch: Thursday, February 3, 2022 pic.twitter.com/mAOuoSc2ZD
— Thin Blue Line USA (@thinbluelineUSA) February 7, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of North Carolina Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice Correctional Officer III Helen Mae “Hank” Smith, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.