A retired Georgia Fire Chief lost his life in the Line of Duty over the weekend while trying to save swimmers in the Gulf Coast. William “Bill” Smith was a Chief in Dekalb County Fire before he retired and became a Sheriff’s Deputy in Alabama. He was specifically assigned to patrol that coastal area with water rescue training, skills and equipment.
Deputy Bill Smith died while still successfully saving the lives of swimmers in distress and is a true hero. Deputy Smith and Deputy Sydney Wentworth were called to the area of Dune Drive in Fort Morgan around 1800 hours Sunday after a report of a swimmer in distress. Wentworth went into the Gulf to rescue a woman who was struggling to stay above the water.
A beach attendant noticed the swimmer and Wentworth in the water and rushed in to help, not realizing the deputy was rescuing the swimmer. As the beach attendant swam out to the two women, he started going underwater himself. The attendant told investigators he then felt Deputy Smith grab him and tell him to hold on to a rescue buoy and swim to shore. As Smith was towing the attendant to the shore, he was overcome by the heavy seas and went under. Deputy Smith and the attendant were pulled to the shore by Logan Lambert of the Gulf Shores Fire Department. Deputy Smith was rushed to the emergency room where he was pronounced dead.
Smith had been with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office for seven years and previously served with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office in northern Alabama. Smith played an essential role in starting up the Beach Patrol Unit serving Fort Morgan.
Our condolences to all those affected. Rest In Peace.
Take Care. Be Careful. Pass it On.