Putnam County missing deputy body found: Brandee Smith died after boating accident

April 6, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

A missing Putnam County deputy has been found. According to Putnam County officials, the body of deputy Brandee Smith, a mother of four, was found in Sportsman Drive in Welaka, Florida after a boating accident.

Putnam County missing deputy

The body of a Putnam County missing deputy has been recovered in a river in Florida.

On Saturday, officials from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office released a heartbreaking statement where they announced that they had lost one of their own. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputy Brandee Smith, a 35-year-old outstanding law enforcer and a loving mother of four, died in a boating accident.

According to officials, in the early hours of Friday morning, Smith went fishing with her boyfriend aboard a 14-foot skiff-style boat near Sportsman Drive in Welaka. At around 4:30 AM, the vessel struck a channel marker, and she was immediately ejected from the boat and was never seen alive again.

Smith’s boyfriend, who was not injured called 911, and an army of rescuers responded hoping to find the missing mother. The boyfriend tried on his own to find her as help was en route. According to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office:

“More than 150 officers from 11 local, county and federal law enforcement agencies joined the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in its mission to find and bring her home. Among them were divers and other officers from the Jacksonville, Clay, St. Johns, Flagler, Orange, Volusia and Lake County sheriff’s offices, St. Augustine Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

In an effort to save the deputy’s life, the experts searched the area with helicopters, boats equipped with side-scanning sonar, and personal vessels. Officers on foot also combed the river banks.

After the body had been discovered, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement where they remembered Smith and offered their condolences to family and friends. Capt. Joseph Wells, a spokesman for the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, wept as he told local media:

“These professionals served with dedication and distinction under the most difficult of circumstances. Many members of the community and several local businesses provided food and other assistance to Brandee’s family and search crews throughout the search.”

Wells went on to say that he and Smith were very close and shared a love for the river and fishing, and they had a habit of going fishing before dawn. A very emotional Sheriff Jeff Hardy added:

“This is the type of call you don’t want to get in the middle of the night.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which was investigating the accident, had issued a statement that read:

“We will never leave that site until we have some type of resolution.”

Officials at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office recommend going out on the river in the dark if and only if you are an experienced sailor and fisherman.

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    Comments (8)

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    1. DebLA says:

      Investigate the boyfriend.

    2. Straight Talk says:

      Maybe the Feds will look into that while they are investigating the Putnam County Sheriffs Office. Rumor has it one thing they are looking into is inappropriate use of funds paying for toys and raises instead of the new jail. For just one! Roger Boise

    3. Bryan Jay Koeff says:

      Okay, so can we now start talking about putting a flashing lights on channel markers? There’s obviously a problem here. God Bless her and her family…

    4. Geezee says:

      Lifejacket? Aren’t they required by law?

    5. calicqutee says:

      4:30 in the morning with no front light on your boat,,your basically riding blind and there was no mention of a life vest no mention on whether she could swim or tread,,i mean at some point when does safety factor in when boating at night

    6. Straight Talk says:

      What does her so called boy friend do again?

    7. L Tully says:

      Why wasn’t she wearing a life jacket? Why were they in a boat so early in the morning? Where were her children? Why didn’t the boyfriend jump in after her? Even if she was knocked out, if she’d had a life jacket on, she could still float. There are way too many unanswered questions here. Something is wrong.

    8. Leanne says:

      Investigate this completely!! I find it very hard to believe she was thrown overboard and such an impact didn’t damage the boat more? WEIRD…And he was not hurt in any way? Life jackets were not being worn & she was driving? I’m sorry but there’s a few too many suspicious things here.


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