Police cadet, soldier found dead in canal while home for National Guard duty

An Illinois National Guardsman and cadet with the San Diego Police Department was found dead in a canal outside of Galesburg, Illinois.

23-year-old Illinois National Guard Specialist Tyler Smith was found at the bottom of a canal last Saturday, having ended up in the waterway sometime after he was last seen leaving a tavern at around 11:30 Friday night.

A heavy vehicle driver with the 123rd Engineer Battalion, Smith enlisted in the Guard in 2013 and was promoted to Specialist in 2016.   Prior to operating vehicles, he was an ammunition specialist with the 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery.

“Tyler’s unit is absolutely heartbroken over his death and he was an excellent young soldier,” said LTC Brad Leighton of the Illinois National Guard. “He had so much promise and so much drive.”

According to KWQC, Smith had recently relocated to California in order to begin cadet training for the San Jose Police Department. He had long had his eye on the city, which was also home to his favorite hockey team, the San Jose Sharks.

In 2018, Smith graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in criminal justice and a minor in homeland security. From a young age, he had set his sights on military and police service.

It is unknown how Smith ended up in the canal, but authorities who investigated his death did not suspect foul play.

An obituary states that Smith will be interned on September 22 in his Illinois hometown of Rochelle. Military rites will be performed by the Eastern Lee-Ogle Honor Guard and the Illinois Army National Guard.

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