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'He will be watching over us all' | Carroll County deputy dies after COVID battle

The Carroll County Sheriff's Office announced the passing of Deputy Jody Smith on Friday night.

CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. — A Carroll County described as a "kind and gentle soul" has died due to COVID complications, the sheriff's office announced Friday night.

The Carroll County Sheriff's Office said it was "heartbroken" after the passing of Deputy Jody Smith. He was 49 years old.

"Although we know he is healed and with his savior, we are heartbroken for those left behind, his family, blood and blue, his friends, and all the lives he has touched during his 8 years with us at the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office," the sheriff's office said on Facebook.

RELATED: 'He fought it with all of his might' | Newnan officer dies after COVID battle

A prayer vigil had been held for Smith just Thursday night outside Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton. The sheriff's office said he had been "always sweet, always willing to step up whenever needed" and "never seemed to have a bad day."

"Whenever you would see Jody he would always be smiling or laughing because he was just a happy person, and that exuded through his work, and should be evident by the love his community has shown he and his family these past few days," the sheriff's office said. "We don’t know and understand why God called him home at the young age of 49, but we do know one thing is certain, he got one of the 'good ones' today."

Credit: Carroll County Sheriff's Office

The sheriff's office asked for prayers for his family and co-workers, as well as "all those who are suffering from this unforgiving illness."

"Until we meet again, Rest In Peace Deputy Jody Smith, we will take the watch from here," the sheriff's office said.

There was no information yet on services for the deputy.

Smith is one of a number of at least three first responders who died this week due to COVID, including Newnan police officer Frankie Gutierrez and Forest Park firefighter John Gaddy.

Amid a COVID surge that has brought hospitalizations in Georgia back to their winter surge peaks and stretched the healthcare system thin, the state is urging those who have yet to be vaccinated to now get their shot, which has proven highly effective at preventing serious COVID cases.

The Department of Public Health directs Georgians to https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine to find a vaccination location.