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Wife speaks about husband's drowning during search and rescue effort on Lake Shasta

By Stephanie Montano, smontano@krcrtv.com
Published On: Sep 27 2013 11:59:51 AM CDT
Updated On: Sep 27 2013 12:46:23 PM CDT
SHASTA LAKE, Calif. -

The death of 63-year-old volunteer diver Ken Smith has left a mark on Shasta County.

Smith died trying to salvage a robot that was being used to find a man who had drowned in Lake Shasta earlier this month.

The loss of Smith has been a big one and has left a lasting impact on many throughout the Northstate community.

"He was always right there, always there all night long no matter what it took to find somebody and bring them home safely, " said Ken’s wife Cheryl Smith.

Cheryl Smith said her late husband’s helping heart was passed down through the generations.

"His father, during the 1964 flood of Eel River, after saving his family went back and saved several other families, they had to help them out,” said Cheryl. She said that is what sparked Ken's passion for helping others.

Ken served in the military and started his diving career in Vietnam were he helped rescue those who had gone missing.

In 1972, he came to Redding and in 1974, he and Cheryl were married.

Ten years later they bought a marina.

"He was back into his passion again doing boat work and diving,"said Cheryl. She said Ken enjoyed diving and enjoyed putting his skill to good use.

"If somebody was broke down half the time he never charged he would just help,"said Cheryl.

Cheryl said Ken was an expert diver who was very cautious, which is why she never thought anything would go wrong.

When he left that day to help, it was just another day for Ken to do what he loved. She said she is thankful for the many people who have reached out, all of them reminding her what a great man Ken Smith was.

"He always did it with a smile on his face and he never hesitated to help a person," said Cheryl. "That was his motto in life -- the more people [he helped], the more enriched life he led, that was him."
Ken Smith's death is still under investigation.Deputy John Zufall, who dove down to try and save him has since recovered after being taken to Travis air force base for treatment.