Alabama deputy died while rescuing distressed swimmer along Gulf Coast, officials say

Posted at 1:40 PM, Jun 07, 2021

Authorities say a sheriff’s deputy in Alabama died while rescuing a distressed swimmer along the Gulf Coast over the weekend.

The state’s attorney general, Steve Marshall, said in a statement that Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputy William “Bill” Smith died while conducting the successful rescue Sunday night.

“It is with great sadness that Alabama’s law enforcement community has suffered the loss of another hero,” said Marshall. “Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Smith perished in the line of duty while heroically rescuing a swimmer in distress along Alabama’s Gulf Coast Sunday evening.”

The Gulf Shores Police Department says Smith was among the first responders who were called to the Fort Morgan area at about 6 p.m. to assist multiple swimmers who were in distress.

Smith was a veteran law enforcement officer who previously served with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office before joining his current department seven years ago, according to Marshall.

The 57-year-old officer was married, and he leaves behind two children.

“Deputy Smith’s brave and swift response to save the life of another should cause us all to pause and reflect upon the sacrifice of all law enforcement,” said Marshall. “We can never repay Deputy Smith for putting the life of a potential victim ahead of his own. Tonight, we offer our prayers to Deputy Smith’s family and his friends and colleagues in the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.”

WKRG and WEAR report that another deputy also responded to the call, went into the water, and had to be taken to an area hospital. The City of Orange Beach identified the other deputy as Sydney Wentworth and said the officer has since been released from the hospital and is expected to recover.

Gulf Shores police are asking the public for help in the investigation into Smith’s death. Officers said in a Facebook post that several witnesses were present while emergency services from multiple agencies assisted in the incident. Police are asking for those eyewitnesses to come forward with information relating to those who assisted in the matter, including any cell phone video or photos.

If you have information relating to this incident, you’re asked to call Gulf Shores police at 251-968-2431 or contact the department via email at