An off-duty firefighter has been found dead after helping to save three young girls who were struggling to swim in a Detroit river.
Sgt. Sivad Johnson, 49, was with his 10-year-old daughter on Friday, August 21, by the Detroit River near Belle Isle when he saw three girls who signalled to say they were having trouble swimming.
Johnson, a 26-year veteran firefighter, jumped into the river to go to the girls’ aid, along with another man and a boat in the area. The second man was able to rescue one girl while the boat picked up the other two.
The three girls who were struggling to swim were successfully brought back to dry land, after which they were taken home by their parents.
Once everyone was out of the water, Johnson’s daughter realised her father was not among the crowd. Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell explained the 10-year-old became concerned and called police to tell them she thought he was still in the water.
In a series of tweets detailing the incident, Michigan State Police said troopers and DNR Officers responded to the scene and arrived within minutes. They explained: ‘It is believed the father may have been dragged underwater by the rip-current and no one noticed.’
Police and fire officials launched a search for Johnson while his daughter was cared for by her grandfather. Rescuers requested EMS and the Harbor Master, who in turn requested the Detroit Police Department dive team.
Michigan State Police explained:
After the search was stopped yesterday due to darkness, the search is continuing today off the Belle Isle beach by DPD and DFD. MSP divers are headed to Belle Isle to relieve those divers and continue the search throughout the day.
Johnson’s body was eventually discovered by police and fire department divers at around 1.00pm on Saturday.
Following the recovery of Johnson’s body, the Detroit Fire Department changed its Facebook cover photo to a firefighter badge with a black morning band across it.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Johnson’s family in the wake of his death. At the time of writing, August 25, $74,400 has been raised of a $100,000 goal.
Our thoughts are with the heroic firefighter’s family and friends at this tragic time.