Circumstances of Death
Special Agents William Edward Smith and John Malsed were patrolling the highways and observed a vehicle transporting moonshine whiskey near Mulberry, Kansas. As they pursued the suspect vehicle, the steering gear box on the government car malfunctioned causing the car to go into a ditch, hit a concrete culvert and tip over. Agent Smith received serious injuries to his head and was dazed and confused immediately after the accident. He was treated at a local hospital and remained under a doctor's care for several months. After returning to duty, he continued to complain about neck and arm pain.
Several months later, Agents Smith and Malsed were again patrolling the highways looking for vehicles hauling liquor. During the surveillance, Agent Smith suffered a stroke and was unable to speak. He was rushed to the hospital, but died three days later. Doctors concluded that the prior accident was partially responsible for the stroke that caused his death.
Agent Smith joined the Prohibition Unit on December 21, 1920, with an annual salary of $1,500. He was assigned to offices at Little Rock, Arkansas; Albany, New York; and Kansas City, Kansas. In 1923, he transferred to the U.S. Customs Service, but returned to the Bureau of Prohibition in 1929. Agent Smith proudly served in the U.S. Army from 1909 to 1920 and was commissioned an officer in 1917.
Agent Smith was born in Hemphill, Texas. He was survived by his wife.