Joseph Malachi Alexander and his 5-year-old brother were wading in shallow water at an area of the lake called Cable Crossing when Alexander apparently stepped off a ledge into deeper water.
The boy’s stepfather and friends were close by and pulled the child from the lake. Because there was no cell service at the lake, the family got the child into a vehicle and drove him to a nearby fire station.
Efforts by members of Arley Fire and Rescue to revive the child were unsuccessful.
Winston County Sheriff Rick Harris said the family from Arley was camping at the lake over the holiday weekend.
“It’s one of those sad situations, but unfortunately not uncommon,” Harris said. “We’ve got a lot of the children out on the lake without life preservers. I’ve seen a lot of children drown over the years, but none who were wearing a life preserver.”
Alexander’s death has been ruled accidental.
It was the first drowning on Smith Lake in 2014.