Baldwin County mourns MP lost in water rescue
NOTE: This story was updated at 2:27 p.m. after Sheriff Hoss Mack’s press conference.
(OBA®) – Orange Beach, AL – It’s a sad Baldwin County this morning after Baldwin County Deputy Sheriff William Smith, 57, drowned during a water rescue attempt at Fort Morgan on Sunday evening June 6. According to Sheriff Hoss Mack, Smith was assigned to a new beach detail with another officer and when he was taken out of the water he was in cardiac arrest.
“He saw his need to risk his life to save someone else’s and that’s what he did,” Mack said. “He saved a life yesterday.
Smith was rushed to South Baldwin’s new self-contained emergency room in Gulf Shores, where medics attempted to resuscitate him for an hour, Mack said.
“We believe that the backwashes were increasing as this happened and that the increasing surf also played a role in the incident,” Mack said.
Another officer who participated in the rescue, Deputy Sydney Wentworth, was transported from the scene to South Baldwin Regional Hospital and discharged from the hospital later that evening.
Mack said Wentworth went into the water to help Adrienne Korecky, but she herself became in distress. A beach attendant then entered the water to help the couple who eventually made it to shore.
The beach attendant was in trouble then and, according to a press release from the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, someone grabbed him and told him to take that lifeline and swim to shore. The press release stated that this person was Smith.
Korecky and the attendant were transported to local hospitals, South Baldwin’s autonomous emergency attendant and the Korecky to Springhill Hospital in Mobile. Mack said the two have been released and are recovering at home.
Fort Morgan does not have a flag system in place, but the county has installed special signage to alert visitors and residents of water conditions along Fort Morgan Road in unincorporated areas. Yellow flags indicating medium danger were hoisted in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach on Sunday evening.
Mack said the two MPs were part of a new beach patrol launched by the Sheriff’s Department in March to patrol beaches during peak holiday season. The two, along with all officers assigned to the beach patrol, received special training prior to the launch of the new patrol, Mack said.
Smith arrived in Baldwin County from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and before that he spent 30 years in the fire departments in Georgia and Weaver, Alabama. He had worked in Baldwin County for two years and resided in Gulf Shores.
In another incident, three fishermen off Dauphin Island were rescued by the Coast Guard mobile sector. The men were fishing near Little Sand Island when their boat John capsized.