During a Tuesday morning meeting, DeKalb County commissioner Robert Patrick called Smith a “true DeKalb County hero.”

“Smith died doing what made his career 25 years,” said Patrick. “Save lives.”

“As a law enforcement veteran, Deputy Smith’s recent actions resulted in the ultimate sacrifice to save a citizen’s life,” said Hal Taylor, secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. “His service, sacrifice and courageous actions will never be forgotten as a true hero of his local community and of the entire state of Alabama.”

“It is with great sadness that the Baldwin County Sheriff’s office must confirm the loss of one of our own. Deputy Bill Smith died last night, June 6th, trying to rescue a swimmer in distress on Fort Morgan Road, ”the Baldwin County Sheriff’s office said. “Another deputy also went into the water to save the people. This deputy was transported to a hospital and is fine. All swimmers who have been in distress will be treated for (a) non-life-threatening situation. Deputy Smith served as a veteran of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office for seven years. Thank you for keeping Deputy Smith’s family and the sheriff’s office in your prayers. “

Tyler Estep of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.