LODD: Volunteer Fla. firefighter drowns during ocean water rescue
St. George Island Volunteer Firefighter/First Responder Brian Stephen Smith, 56, was swept up by the current while trying to save a man and child in distress
By Laura French
ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. — A volunteer firefighter drowned Tuesday during a water rescue at a Florida beach.
St. George Island Volunteer Firefighter/First Responder Brian Stephen Smith, 56, was swept up by the current as firefighters worked to rescue two distressed swimmers, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Smith was pulled from the water and transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Another firefighter was also hospitalized after the rescue but is recovering, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Smith and three other firefighters were attempting to rescue a man and child from the water at the time of the drowning; the conditions of the man and child were not reported.
Smith had been a member of the St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department since 2016.
Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith responded to the incident in a video imploring tourists not to go into the ocean when a red flag or double red flag is flying on the beach.
"It was a double red flag day; nobody should be in the water," the sheriff said. "We're all heartbroken about the loss of life today from a first responder who was heeding the call to go rescue someone."
The sheriff said deputies will be patrolling the beaches and arresting anyone who goes in the water after being told not to.
Prayer for the family of the SGI First Responder who sacrificed his life to save others today.Posted by Franklin County Sheriff's Office, A.J. "Tony" Smith, Sheriff on Tuesday, August 25, 2020