Off-duty Detroit firefighter drowns after two girls rescued from Detroit River

Detroit Fire Department Sgt. Sivad Johnson, 49, drowned Friday night in the Detroit River after jumping in while off-duty to rescue two girls from the water, officials said. Photo courtesy of the Detroit Fire Department

Aug. 23 (UPI) — The Detroit Police Department on Saturday announced divers had recovered the body of missing Detroit Fire Department Sergeant, Sivad Johnson, 49, who drowned Friday night while rescuing two young girls in the Detroit River.

Johnson, a 26-year veteran of the Detroit Fire Department, was off-duty and part of a group of several people near Belle Island who went into the water after two girls fell into the river.

Johnson and his daughter were walking near the Yacht Club when they heard two girls “screaming from the water,” Dave Fornell, deputy commissioner of the Detroit Fire Department told the Detroit News.

The girls were pulled out of the river and released to their parents, who took them home. But around 9 p.m. Johnson’s 10-year-old daughter told police that her father was missing.

“It is believed [Johnson] may have been dragged underwater by the rip-current and no one noticed,” a tweet from Michigan State Police said.

The Detroit Police Department dive team and Harbor Master searched Friday but gave up because of darkness and finally located Johnson’s body Saturday afternoon.

Johnson was awarded the department’s medal of valor in 2017.

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


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