Fallen deputy leaves 'void that will never be filled'

Deputy Brandee Smith killed in boating accident on St. Johns River


PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – The flags were at half-staff Monday in Putnam County in honor of a woman who loved her family and served her community.

Deputy Brandee Smith, 35, was off duty last week when she was killed in a boating accident on the St. Johns River, Putnam County investigators said.

The mother of three will be laid to rest at 10 a.m. Thursday in a funeral at the Florida School of the Arts Auditorium on the campus of St. Johns River State College in Palatka.

The sheriff said she will be buried with full law enforcement honors. The service will be open to the public.

“She has left a void in the agency that will never be filled, but we will continue to see Brandee every day at this agency, and we will continue to see her traits and her talents come shining through,” Capt. Joseph Wells said.

Investigators said Smith left the area early Friday morning to go boating with her boyfriend, but the boat collided with a channel marker, and she was thrown into the river.

“The exact occurrence and how it occurred and all the contributing factors will be something that will be left up to FWC,” Wells said.

After crews from multiple agencies searched for more than 24 hours, using sonar in the murky waters, divers found Smith's body Saturday afternoon.

She was found near Donald Waters' dock.

“It looks like it was probably about 75 to 100 yards out from where we were,” Waters said. “It is just disheartening to know another family is having to go through this.”

Smith's supervisor said she was a mentor and an inspiration. She leaves behind three children, ages 12 to 17.

Community members are showing their support for the sheriff's office and Smith's family with donations.

The PCSO's Ten-24 Foundation, a nonprofit focusing on providing a support network for all Putnam County law enforcement agencies, their employees and families, is collecting donations on behalf of Smith's family.

To donate, go to www.ten24foundation.org. Under the “Contact” tab is a Donate button. The form can also be used to contact the Ten-24 Foundation about any non-monetary donations.

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