Off-duty FF drowns attempting to rescue 3 girls in river

Sgt. Sivad Johnson was with his 10-year-old daughter when he heard screams and immediately jumped into the Detroit River to help


By Rachel Engel

DETROIT — The body of an off-duty firefighter was recovered after he attempted to rescue three girls from the Detroit River.

Detroit Fire Department Sgt. Sivad Johnson, 48, was spending Friday evening with his 10-year-old daughter when he heard screams coming from the water and immediately jumped in to help, along with another civilian and a nearby boat, FOX News reported.

Sgt. Sivad Johnson was a 26-year member of the Detroit Fire Department, as was his father. In 2016, he was honored by the Detroit Public Safety Foundation for saving an unconscious man during a fire, and in 2017 he was awarded the DFD’s medal of valor.(Photo/Detroit Fire Department)
Sgt. Sivad Johnson was a 26-year member of the Detroit Fire Department, as was his father. In 2016, he was honored by the Detroit Public Safety Foundation for saving an unconscious man during a fire, and in 2017 he was awarded the DFD’s medal of valor.(Photo/Detroit Fire Department)

Three girls were rescued from the water, but it wasn’t until later that Johnson’s daughter realized her father had not returned and called 911.

Search and rescue efforts for Johnson were called off due to darkness and his body was found on Saturday afternoon after a six-hour search.

Authorities believe Johnson was dragged under by a rip current.

“He’s a firefighter, he saw the girls in distress and jumped in. He’s done that his entire career,” Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell said in an interview with The Detroit News. “Something happened, and it’s unfortunate to have lost one of our own that way.”

Johnson was a 26-year member of the DFD, as was his father. In 2016, he was honored by the Detroit Public Safety Foundation for saving an unconscious man during a fire, and in 2017 he was awarded the DFD’s medal of valor.

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