CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia State Trooper from Suffolk died in the line of duty Monday morning. Trooper Nathan-Michael W. Smith, 27, was responding to a call on the I-295 on-ramp to 95 when his cruiser went off the ramp.
From his church and school communities, to the law enforcement community, Smith touched many lives in his 27 years.
Pastor Alvin Georges of Mt. Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church told WAVY.com Monday night, Smith lived as he died: serving others.
“His heart was to serve others,” said Georges. “And to know that he was on duty, doing what he loved to do, just sends a great message of his legacy.”
Mt. Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church, which is known as “The Mount,” is where Smith served as a keyboardist and in the security ministry. Smith was part of The Mount’s Chesapeake and Newport News communities. Georges had just returned from Henrico when WAVY.com interviewed him. He had driven to the Richmond area to comfort Smith’s wife and children.
“We actually gathered together, we prayed,” said Georges. “And just to share in that moment, to let them know that you’re not alone.”
State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says that shortly after 7 a.m. Monday, a 2004 Dodge pickup truck, traveling eastbound, ran off U.S. 460 in Dinwiddie County and hit a guardrail. The driver, 65-year-old Donald W. Shaw of Montgomery, Louisiana, died later at Southside Regional Medical Center.
A trooper at the crash scene radioed for help. Other troopers understood the call to mean there was an officer in distress as well as a crash victim, and several responded to the scene.
Among them was Smith, whose car crashed in Prince George County. He died at VCU Medical Center. Smith was a Suffolk native and was assigned to the Richmond Division Area 7 Office. Geller said it was later determined that no troopers were in distress at the scene of the crash.
“He really had a passion for the law enforcement,” said Georges. “I mean, he was really, really motivated to get there.”
Smith grew up in Suffolk and went to Nansemond River High School.
His hometown newspaper, the Suffolk News Herald, even interviewed him last year when he became a trooper.
He told the paper then, “As a kid, I would memorize license plates and identify cars,” said Smith. “I’ve always been interested in helping and serving the public in any way that I can.”
According to his friend Zeus Campbell, Smith went to Norfolk State University starting in 2005. Campbell and Smith were roommates and were both part of the Spartan Legion Marching Band. Smith played the tuba.
Campbell told WAVY.com on Monday night, it made sense when Smith became a state trooper, because he was a humanitarian who only wanted to help others.
A fund has been established to aid Trooper Smith’s family. Contributions can be made to the Virginia State Police Association Emergency Relief Fund. Make checks payable to the VSPA-ERF and notate. “Smith” on the memo line of your check. Mail to VSPA. 6944 Forest Hill Ave., Richmond, VA, 23225. Also, if anyone would like to make an online contribution through Paypal. Visit http://www.vspa.org and click on Emergency Relief Fund. It is important to put “Smith” in the note section of your Paypal contribution.