By Bruce Schreiner Associated Press
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A small-town Kentucky police officer swept away by floodwaters was found dead Saturday after an overnight search, authorities said.
Hickman police Officer Rodney S. Smith disappeared Friday night while on duty, and his body was found the next morning in a flooded field, Kentucky State Police Detective Jody Cash said.
Condolences to the family, friends & colleagues of Hickman KY Police Officer Rodney Smith, who drowned after being swept away in flood waters after responding to a call. #NeverForget #RIP pic.twitter.com/zblfi0VkNb
— Knoxville Police TN (@Knoxville_PD) March 4, 2018
Before his disappearance, Smith contacted a dispatcher asking for help after his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters from a nearby creek, Hickman city manager James Gray said.
“It’s unexpected and devastating,” Gray said.
Smith, 45, of Boaz, Kentucky, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Fulton County coroner, Cash said. The investigation was ongoing and an autopsy was planned Saturday, he said.
Search and rescue teams from Kentucky and Tennessee joined in the overnight search.
Hickman, a town of about 2,400 people along the Mississippi River, is in the far southwest corner of Kentucky. The town is about 270 miles (435 kilometers) southwest of Louisville.
The first word that Smith had encountered high water came about 9:15 p.m. CST Friday when he told a dispatcher that his cruiser had run off the road at the edge of town and asked for a tow truck, Gray said. The situation escalated quickly and he radioed back for help, saying his cruiser had been caught in a swift current, Gray said. The area has received heavy rain in recent days.
This is the flooded field in Hickman, KY where 45yo Police Officer Rodney Smith was found this morning. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Hear from the community and local officials tonight on Heartland News at 6pm. @kfvsnews pic.twitter.com/B07JRFijpL
— Illinois News Lady (@bjacobkfvs) March 3, 2018
Smith got out of the cruiser when it began to sink, and authorities lost contact with him, Gray said. Dozens of searchers went out looking for him.
His body was found about 5 a.m Saturday, Cash said. His cruiser also was found.
Smith had been a member of Hickman’s police department for nearly five months, Gray said. The department has a half-dozen officers, including the chief, he said. Smith previously worked as an officer in Mayfield, Kentucky, for several years, Gray said.