On a freezing cold day in December of 1968, Smithfield Patrolman Norman G. Vezina gave his life in the line of duty while attempting to rescue five year-old Kenneth Firby who had fallen through the ice and into the frigid water of the Spragueville Reservoir. Patrolman Vezina had arrived on the scene before the firefighters and rescue squad and, without hesitation, plunged into the icy water and reached the boy. Patrolman Vezina struggled to lift the boy above water, town firefighters tried unsuccessfully several times to throw a rescue rope within his reach. Tragically, both Patrolman Vezina and Kenneth Firby disappeared beneath the surface of the ice before the firefighters could reach them.
Norman Vezina was promoted posthumously to the rank of Sergeant. He was 38 years-old when he died, the newest member of the Smithfield Police Department. He had been a police officer for only eight months.
Sergeant Norman G. Vezina unselfishly gave his life while in the performance of his duty, and he died upholding the highest traditions of the Smithfield Police Department.
In a ceremony on September 14, 2017, the Smithfield Police Department dedicated the Sgt. Norman G. Vezina Community Meeting & Training Room. The 900 sq. foot room, overlooking scenic Stump Pond, includes a display case that features Sgt. Vezina’s police badge, his burial flag, and his wallet.
“THE MEMORY OF SERGEANT NORMAN G. VEZINA WHOSE ULTIMATE GIFT, HIS LIFE, TAKEN IN THE ATTEMPT TO SAVE THE LIFE OF A CHILD DECEMBER 10, 1968, SHALL CONTINUE TO LIVE ON FOREVER IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE OF SMITHFIELD”
Sgt. Vezina is memorialized at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. (Panel 34 W – Line 10):