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