From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
KNOXVILLE, TENN. –According to family members, the body found in George’s Creek during the search on Monday has been identified as Blake Smith, 20, of Trussville. Smith was attending Crown College, a seminary in Powell, Tenn. near Knoxville.
Smith is the son of Jim and Kim Smith of Trussville and the nephew of Trussville Realtor Jill Williams.
“With heavy hearts that we confirm that it was our Beautiful, Beloved Blake Smith that has passed into glory! Our greatest desire is that others would listen to some of Blake’s last words,” Williams posted to social media. The video of Smith’s last sermon is below.
Knox County Regional Forensic Center performed an autopsy and identified the body as Smith.
The Blount County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office posted on social media that the death appeared to be accidental.
“The preliminary cause of death was determined as hypothermia/drowning, and his death appears to be accidental,” was posted on the sheriff’s Facebook page.
Smith’s family, however, disputes the findings of the coroner and sheriff.
Related Article: Investigation into Blake Smith’s death will continue
“There is inaccurate information going around about Blake’s death, please know that his family knows more about what happened than anyone, no matter what the ‘source’ is,” Williams posted on social media. “His family was there with each search and lead. It is an on going investigation and we can not comment at this time. If you saw, what his family saw, you would understand. We can say it was not accidental and foul play was involved.”
Blount County Sheriff James Berrong announced on Monday that a body had been found in George’s Creek, a tributary that drains into Fort Loudoun Lake about a quarter of a mile from the construction site where Smith’s vehicle was found.
Smith, a ministry student, preached the New Years Eve service at Mountain View Baptist Church in Grayson Valley.
In the video of the sermon, Smith displayed a keen sense of humor and said he was approached by the church’s pastor about delivering the final sermon of 2017.
“He said ‘this year, New Years Eve is on a Sunday night. We would love to end 2017 the right way and get the best preacher possible. But if we’re not able to do that, would you be able to preach?,'” Smith said to the approving laughter of the congregation. “So, I’m sorry that plan B is up here.”
Smith went on to deliver a strong sermon with confidence and a comfort level in the pulpit of a seasoned minister.
In the sermon, Smith spoke of the preciousness of life.
“I’m here to remind you that our time here is short,” Smith said. “We learned back in 1 Corinthians, chapter 10 that as Christians our life goal is to do all for the glory of God. Here in James, chapter 4, we learn that our time is short. So it’s easy to put together that we have a goal and we do not have a long time to do it.”
Smith was last seen leaving work at Weedman Lawn Care at 2 p.m. on Saturday and never returned to his dorm. He had not been heard from since.
Family members said the last activity they could find on social media was an Instagram photo posted about the time he went missing. The photo is of a lake at Admiral Farragut Park where the search was centered. The search then shifted to the area where Smith’s car was found. His body was found in a creek a short distance away.
Smith’s father used a locator app and tracked his cell phone to the location of his vehicle which was found running and crashed into a house under construction with his cell phone still inside the car. The car had extensive damage beyond that caused by the wreck. Law enforcement officials searched the area with the K9 unit but weren’t able to locate Smith on Sunday and the dogs were not able to pick up his scent around the car.
His shoe, a beanie and his gold chain were found, according to family members. A cinder block had been placed on the gas pedal.
The sheriff’s office located the body in the water on Monday with the use of a drone owned by the department. A helicopter was already in route from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and assisted in helping to pinpoint the location, Berrong said.
Smith attended Crown College of the Bible in Powell, Tenn. and is a graduate of Mountain View Baptist School in Grayson Valley.
You can watch Blake Smith’s sermon from Dec. 31, 2017 in the video below.