Deputy died from drowning while working to rescue swimmer

Sheriff Huey 'Hoss' Mack explains the events that lead to the drowning death of deputy Bill Smith on June 6.

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    BALDWIN COUNTY, Alabama (WALA) -- Baldwin County Sheriff "Hoss" Mack confirmed on Thursday Deputy Bill Smith's cause of death was drowning while working to save three swimmers on Sunday.

It comes after an autopsy.

Deputy Smith making the ultimate sacrifice. He is described as a man who loved to help people.

“The mottos that might describe Bill, one of them might be "save a life today," Mack said. “That was just his goal was to help people and by doing whatever means in whatever way that he had too in whatever capacity he was in."

Baldwin County Deputy Smith dying a hero. When three swimmers needed help last weekend, Sheriff Mack says Smith was the first on scene and dove right in to start the rescue.

“Bill was able to reach the individual, he was able to deploy his portable floatation device to the individual who was able to grab it and so the rescue was starting, there was conversation between the two," he said.

But that is when things started going from bad to worse.

“Unfortunately to include not only the riptide that was going on at that point in time, the waves had really started to pick up and essentially they got into what's known as a roll under," Sheriff Mack said.

Sheriff Mack says the teen Deputy Smith was working to save was able to get back up for air, but Smith could not, even though he was wearing a floatation device.

At the same time, Deputy Sydney Wentworth was also working to save another person.

Investigators say this all started when one person was reported in distress and other swimmers rushed in to help.

"It's unfortunate that Deputy Bill Smith died in this, but we must remember that he and Deputy Wentworth saved three lives that day,” Sheriff Mack said.

Deputy Smith had a more than 40-year career in public service, first as a firefighter then in law enforcement.

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