The funeral for Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputy Brandee Smith isn’t until Thursday, but markers honoring her memory are already visible throughout Palatka.
Flags sit at half-staff, black bands cover law enforcement badges, blue lights glow and signs in the city display tributes to the 35-year-old mother of three.
As someone who worked with Smith when she started in 2012, sheriff’s office Capt. Joseph Wells said the deputy didn’t leave without making a mark in the community.
“She’s left a void in the agency that will never be filled,” Wells said.
The captain said one of Smith’s most notable contributions was in training new officers.
“You can see little bits and pieces of Brandee in every one of them, and I think that’s how she’ll live on for us,” he said.
The former deputy died after being ejected Friday from a 14-foot skiff boat. She was traveling with her boyfriend when the pair’s boat struck a channel marker near Sportsman Drive at about 4:40 a.m. on Friday. Smith leaves behind three children between the ages of 12 and 17, Wells said. The boyfriend was not injured.
Her body was found Saturday at 1:45 p.m. with the help of more than 150 officers and deputies from 11 law enforcement agencies.
Since finding Smith’s body, the sheriff’s office has given control of the investigation to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The captain said the FWC is looking into finding the contributing factors that led to the incident. Wells also said there appears to be no foul play.
“I’ve heard nothing to contradict the original belief that this is an accident,” he said.
The captain said the office has received hundreds of condolences from the community, including some asking how they can help the family financially. Wells recommended contributions be made through the sheriff office’s Ten-24 Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports financially officers and their families.
As for the family, the captain said they are remaining close and strong despite the tragedy.
“To be quite honest with you, I think it’s the community outreach and the community support that’s carrying them through these tough, troubling times,” he said.
Brandee Smith’s funeral is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Florida School of the Arts Auditorium on the Campus of St. Johns River State College in Palatka.