By Bruce Schreiner
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.