WESLEY CHAPEL — A game warden who fell from a tree stand to his death in a hunting accident Tuesday evening was mourned as a good family man and experienced law enforcement officer.
Friends found the body of Sean O'Shea Smith, 39, of Wesley Chapel after he failed to meet up with the rest of his hunting group, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said.
He had been an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission since 2002, said agency spokeswoman Katie Purcell. His patrol area covered Pasco, Hernando, northern Hillsborough and northern Pinellas counties. Well-liked by the public, he worked boating issues, hunting issues, and "helped out in any way needed," Purcell said.
"He was a valuable asset to the (commission)," she said. His death left the agency "deeply saddened."
A husband and father of two young boys, Smith enjoyed his family time.
"Just last weekend his wife said they spent a wonderful weekend together doing nothing but spending time with each other and the kids," Purcell said.
He also loved spending time outdoors hunting and fishing.
Smith and three other hunters were in the Quail Hollow area about 4 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said. When Smith did not return to a designated meeting area about 7 p.m., the other hunters went looking for him and found him on the ground.
It is unclear what caused him to fall from the tree stand.
The Sheriff's Office is investigating his death. Purcell said Smith's supervisors were with his family Wednesday.
No one was at his home in the Quail Hollow neighborhood Wednesday. Smith's state-issued Silverado truck was parked beside another pickup. Dried mud coated the tires, and a jacket was draped on the back of the passenger's seat. On the side was the commission logo with the words "Patrol, Protect, Preserve."