ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — The public is invited to participate as family and friends pay their last respects to Deputy William “Bill” Smith on Saturday, June 12 in Robertsdale.
Funeral arrangements for Smith have been finalized and will be held at the Baldwin County Coliseum in Robertsdale, said Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack during a press conference held Thursday, June 10 at the Coliseum.
Visitation for Smith, which is open to the public, will be held beginning at 12:30 p.m. with traditional funeral services beginning at 2 p.m.
A short service outside the Coliseum will immediately follow the indoor service, Mack said, which will include a 21-gun salute, the playing of “Taps” and a traditional final call of service with the Sheriff’s Department.
A processional will then follow the services, which could start at or around 4 p.m., Mack said. The processional will go from the Coliseum and head west on Fairground Road to Alabama 59, turning at Robertsdale High School to the north and continuing on Alabama 59 to Central Baldwin Middle School (County Road 54) where it will disperse, a route of just under a mile-and-a-half.
“Anyone who wants to set up along the route to pay their last respects is welcome to do so,” Mack said. “Anyone who does not wish to participate needs to be aware that one lane of traffic will be blocked off and could take quite some time because of the volume of law enforcement and fire department personnel involved. They might want to plan an alternate route or avoid the area all together during that time.”
Mack said the investigation, which has been conducted by the Gulf Shores Police Department with the assistance from the Sheriff’s Department, is nearing completion. Smith was taken Tuesday from the Baldwin County Coroner’s Office to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Mobile where his cause of death was determined to be accidental drowning, Mack said.
Smith died Sunday, June 6 responding to a swimmer in distress call in the area of Dune Drive.
Smith and Deputy Sydney Wentworth were on a routine patrol at around 6 p.m. June 6 when they responded to a 9-1-1 call regarding several swimmers in distress.
Mack said Thursday through the course of the investigation it was determined at least four other individuals besides Wentworth and Smith were involved.
“It appears that there was a gentleman in the water that family members believed was in distress,” Mack said. “A family member and her sister entered the water to help out, one had a floatation device, the other did not.”
One of the individuals managed to get out of the water, while the other, identified as Adrienne Korecky, remained, Mack said.
As Smith and Wentworth were responding to the scene, another individual, identified as Donte Reed, a summer employee with Fort Morgan Beach Rentals, also attempted to enter the water to help out and himself became distressed, Mack said.
Smith was able to save the first individual while Wentworth tended to Korecky, Mack said. Smith then turned his attention to Reed.
“We know that they made contact and Smith handed him a flotation device,” Mack said. “Then at some point Smith got turned over by a wave and himself became distressed.”
Mack said Reed told investigators that he turned around, saw Smith floating in the water and stayed with him until help arrived in the form of two Gulf Shores Fire Rescue crew on Jet Skis, were in the area responding to a capsized boat.
They were able to pull everyone out of the water, Mack said. Smith, Wentworth, Korecky and Reed were all transported from there to local hospitals.
“(Smith) had a personal saying, ‘Have you saved a life today,’ and that was his goal to make a difference in someone’s life every day. He did that that day,” Mack said. “The important thing to remember is that while Deputy Smith lost his life that day, he and Deputy Wentworth saved the lives of at least three other individuals.”