Family mourns loss of father, son swept away while fishing

Jacksonville searchers find father's body Saturday, young son's body Sunday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville family is mourning the loss of two loved ones after a fishing outing turned tragic.

Erik and Derrick Smart were out fishing Saturday afternoon when they were swept into the water near the Alimacani Bridge on Heckscher Drive, according to Jacksonville police.

Witnesses said the current pulled them away from shore and eastward toward to ocean.

Search crews located the father’s body around 11 p.m. Saturday, and the young boy's body was pulled from the water around 10 a.m. Sunday.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, along with multiple agencies, scanned the sea using boats and helicopters looking for 7-year-old Derrick until they found him.

The young boy and his father went under while fishing on the dunes during high tide Saturday, according to witnesses. Family members said they were on a father-son trip. They said Derrick loved the water and Smart served in the Navy.

"They had a beautiful relationship. You know, a military father, so he had to come home, and he (Derrick) was spending time with his father, and the tide just took them away," said Derrick's grandmother, Janice Dorn.

She said Derrick's mother, and Smart's wife, is staying strong through faith and family.

"We are holding up my daughter. It is her husband, it is her child," Dorn said. "We love the Lord and he is with us, so that is how we are going to get through it. We are going to give God the glory, and we are going to be here to support my baby."

The family said it thanks the search crews and community for the unending support.

"The officers, the detectives, the helicopters, the divers, I have never seen anything like it before. Their help, their comfort for us all through the night, it has been a phenomenal," said Dorn.

Now family members say they will remember all the good times.

"We are going to remember the joy," Dorn said.

Witnesses who watched the search teams said they are sending prayers to the family.

"My heart goes out to them. It could happen to anybody," fisherman Lorene Miller said.

About the Authors: