A line of law enforcement vehicles formed a procession up Highway 59 and then moved onto Interstate 10 Tuesday morning, escorting a fallen deputy from Robertsdale to Mobile.
That Baldwin County Sheriff's Office deputy -- William "Bill" Smith --- died saving a swimmer in distress Sunday.
There is heartbreak across Baldwin County and beyond two days after Smith lost his life in the Gulf off Fort Morgan.
Smith is being called a hero by fellow law enforcement members and the community. He had been in law enforcement for 12 years -- seven of them serving the BCSO and five years as a member of the SWAT team in Calhoun County.
Prior to that, he spent three decades as a firefighter in Georgia and north Alabama.
Baldwin County Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack said Smith's background played a critical role in his assignment to Fort Morgan beach with Deputy Sydney Wentworth.
Mack said Smith and Wentworth were patrolling the beach Sunday night when they jumped into action to save distressed swimmers in the Gulf.
“The fact that Bill was there, that Sydney was there, as quick as what they were is why we have two of the victims that are alive today,” the sheriff said.
Smith leaves behind a wife and two adult sons.