ROBERTSDALE, Ala. (WKRG) The gulf waters of Fort Morgan are calmer now. Sunday evening it was a different story. “We do believe rip current was involved in this. We do believe the surf was continuing to build while this was going on,” said an emotional Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack at an afternoon briefing.

It started with a 911 call, swimmers in distress near the Dunes Condos in Fort Morgan. Deputy Syndney Wentworth jumps in the water heading towards a woman caught in a rip current. Onshore, a beach attendant hears the calls for help and goes in too but shortly afterward he is also caught in the rip and begins to drown. That’s when deputy Bill Smith grabbed him, gave him a rescue buoy, and began trying to get them both back to shore.

“Bill Smith did what Bill Smith always did, he saw the need to put his life on the line to save somebody else’s and that’s what he did. He saved a life yesterday,” said the sheriff fighting back tears. But he couldn’t save his own. The veteran first responder pronounced dead Sunday night as his brothers and sisters in law enforcement gathered hoping he would pull through.

“Bill Smith lived as a hero, he died as a hero and he will be honored as such,” added Sheriff Mack.

Smith was 57 years old and is survived by his wife and two sons.