BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WKRG) — Sand and water have always held special meaning to Baldwin County Deputy Sydney Wentworth — “Being outdoors, being near the water, that’s really where I’m happy.”
What’s ironic is that the place where she feels her best is also where she would meet her greatest challenge. “I’m still, I hate to say it, stuck a little bit in the anger phase. For some reason, I’m just kind of trapped right there.”
On June 6, she and partner Bill Smith answered the call in Fort Morgan for swimmers in distress. “When I came on the beach I saw Bill. I remember he was going towards the water, and he turned around and threw a pocket knife into the sand and then he hauled butt into the water.”
They both saved lives that day, but it’s the “what if’s” that haunt her. “If I could have grabbed him and, ‘Wait, let’s think about this,’ there is no way I could have talked him out of it. He wouldn’t have changed anything about what happened and what he did.”
Two months later came a commendation and lifesaving award from the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. The county commission passed a resolution in recognition of her actions on June 6. Deputy Bill Smith’s widow Samantha accepted similar recognitions and the certificate of Valor for her late husband.
“It’s hard for me to, I guess, take recognition and feel proud, or I guess anything positive out of something that was so tragic. It’s a hard thing to feel anything but sad,” Wentworth said.
Wentworth is back at work, returning to the beach to be there for the next person that needs help.
“It was more important to me that we start to make changes and that his death was not in vain. To not go back wasn’t really an option,” Wentworth said.
That, she says, is what Bill would do.