Madison County’s Cameron Smith is being mourned this week — and remembered for a heroic last act, trying to save the life of a fellow teen.
The bodies of Smith, 18, and Robert Bryant Wade, 18, of Bogart, were recovered Tuesday morning shortly after 11 a.m. The two had disappeared in a flood-swollen creek in Oconee County Friday afternoon.
According to a televised press conference Tuesday, officials said the boys were found within five minutes of each other about 50 yards apart and a quarter mile from where they were last seen on the McNutt Creek dam Friday afternoon.
Both families were on scene and had been notified after the boys’ bodies were found, according to officials at the press conference.
Smith and Wade reportedly did not know each other and Smith was said by witnesses to have jumped in to try to save Wade after he either jumped into the water after his dog, or inadvertently slipped, according to Madison County Sheriff Michael Moore.
Moore said the incident happened around 3:45 p.m. Friday and that Madison County fire and water rescue workers assisted in searching for the bodies.
Moore said Smith was a friend of his nephew and one of his daughters, “He was all boy, a good kid,” Moore said Monday as the search continued. “I wasn’t around him but about three or four times, but he was very polite.”
He said Smith was homeschooled.
According to various media reports during the nearly four-day search, professional rescue units from more than a dozen agencies, including Madison County, and citizen volunteers were involved in the search along the river corridor for the bodies, along with K-9 units and helicopters. The water level continued to decrease as the search continued.
Comer volunteer fireman Charlie Burroughs said his son was with Cameron at the river when the incident happened and that it was his son who Cameron told to call 9-1-1 as he jumped in after Wade. He said Cameron and his son were good friends who had recently started working together and the families are neighbors.
“He was a really good kid,” Burroughs said. Burroughs said he went to the scene initially for his son, but returned later as part of the volunteers from Madison County who assisted in the search.
As the search continued, the Smith family gathered at the American Legion Post in Danielsville to await news and to interact with the community, according to family friend Chasity Brock, who is working on several ways to assist the family during this time (see below).
Brock said Cameron was crazy about his little nieces and enjoyed playing and interacting with them.
“I didn’t know him really well personally, but I do know he was a wonderful person who knew his Lord and Savior,” she said.
Smith's parents released a handwritten statement about their son and the rescue efforts to Atlanta Station 11-Alive as the search was underway.
"The parents of Cameron Smith want to say thank you for the outpour of support from everyone," the letter reads.
Smith's parents stated he did not know Bryant.
"He was told someone is drowning and without hesitation, he instructed his friend to call 911 and stay safely on solid ground as he jumped in to try to save Bryant. Cameron is truly a hero," the letter reads.
WAYS TO HELP
Efforts are moving forward to assist the family, including an upcoming auction this Saturday in Crawfordville.
Smokin’ Gun Auction, 102 Askin Street, plans a special sale Saturday, June 9, 4 to 6 p.m. with proceeds to be donated to the victim’s families. Donations for the auction are being received through Friday. For more information, organizers are asked to contact Anita Vaughn (706-540-7246), Kenneth Vaughn (706-540-7416, text only please) or Summer Shook-Araujo (706-340-5245).
Anita Vaughn, wife of auctioneer Ken Vaughn, said her family is friends with Bryant’s family. She described Bryant as “sweet and outgoing” and that he had been on camping trips with them.
Meanwhile, Brock is assisting the community in gathering donations of food and extra supplies such as napkins, plates, cups, etc. to assist the Smiths during this time. A meal train has also been established to make sure the family has a steady supply of meals over the next few days. Brock said she is willing to pick up meals and other items for donation to the family. Her number is 706-424-6898.
A fund to help the family with expenses has also been set up at First Madison Bank under the “Cameron Smith Fund.”
Cameron is the son of Mike and Jamie Smith, of Comer. He has a brother, Tyler Smith; sister, Leah Smith, sister, Ashley Smith; and sister-in-law, Torie Smith. He has also two small nieces, Oaklyn Smith and Ryleigh Smith, and a nephew “on the way” Brock said.