Alabama deputy who drowned saving swimmers remembered as a hero


FORT MORGAN, Ala. (WKRG) —Baldwin County Sheriff Deputy Bill Smith was killed on Sunday while attempting to rescue distressed swimmers off a private beach along the Fort Morgan peninsula.

Beachgoers say the surf was extremely rough Sunday.

When Smith and another deputy were called to rescue four swimmers. They all were pulled from the water with the help of the Coast Guard.

Deputy Smith was taken to a medical clinic in Gulf Shores where he later died. A vacationer from Arkansas says she briefly spoke to Smith before he got in the water.

“I think he should be very honored and people should watch [the surf]. Knowing he talked to us before he passed away was kind of sad,” said Cheyanne McMillian. “I think he contained himself very well knowing how many people were out there, it’s kind of sad for real, I will remember him for sure because he did do what he had to do.”

Witnesses say deputy Smith acted bravely without hesitating

“It takes a special group of people to do that, to go out there for somebody else without hesitation, he never even hesitated he never looked to see if backup was coming or anything, he was the only one there and he went in the water,” said witness Autumn McMillian. Moments later deputy Sydney Wentworth also went into the water. She was hospitalized as well and released late last night. The sheriff says Deputy Wentworth is expected to be ok.

Dozens of people vacation along this stretch of the shore. At the time some weren’t sure what was happening but they knew it was bad.

“It breaks my heart, hurts me inside that something tragic like that had happened,” said vacationer Christal Schalk.

Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack spoke following Smith’s passing.

“Bill Smith lived as a hero, he died as a hero and he’ll be honored as such,” Mack said.

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