Off-duty firefighter Sivad Johnson was enjoying a day at the river with his 10-year-old daughter when he spotted three girls in trouble. The brave dad wasted no time jumping in to save them. Sadly, though, it cost him his life.
Sergeant Sivad Johnson and his 10-year-old daughter took a trip together to Belle Isle, a 982-acre island park in the Detroit River. But when the off-duty firefighter heard someone shouting that three girls were drowning, he knew he had to do something.
As a 26-year veteran of the Detroit Fire Department, saving lives is just what Sergeant Johnson does. Sivad handed his keys and wallet to Hayden and took off running toward the emergency.
He and another Good Samaritan dove into the Detroit River and swam to the three girls in danger.
The rescuers succeeded in getting the girls to safety. But somewhere in the midst of the rescuers, authorities believe a rip current dragged the off-duty firefighter to his death.
As soon as Hayden realized her dad hadn’t emerged from the river with the rest of the folks, she called 911. Her grandfather came and picked her up while crews searched for Sergeant Johnson.
Tragically, the next day, his body was discovered and his drowning confirmed.
Heroic Off-Duty Firefighter Honored
The tragic death of off-duty firefighter Sergeant Sivad Johnson hit his family hard. But it wasn’t just his immediate family who mourned. His extended family at the Detroit Fire Department felt the loss deeply, too.
In fact, when the recovery crew brought Sergeant Johnson’s body to the hospital, there were about 10 fire companies waiting there to salute him.
"I would say there was not a dry eye in the house," said the deputy fire commissioner, Dave Fornell. "I've never seen as many firefighters as emotional as this. He was almost bigger than life. He just moved a lot of people."
The deputy fire commission explained how Sivad Johnson was more than just a firefighter. To many of his colleagues, he was a mentor and a teacher who made their careers.
"He was just a magnificent man, soft-spoken, caring, truly a great human being," said Eric Jones, the Detroit fire commissioner.
"He was always a hero to me," said Sivad’s brother, Jamal Johnson.
And now, Sergeant Sivad Johnson is a hero to many more people. Because of this off-duty firefighter’s sacrifice, three lives were saved.
And the community is already chipping in to take care of the wife and two daughters he left behind. Let us all lift them up in prayer during this difficult time.
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man gives up his life for his friends.” John 15:13
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h/t: The New York Times
Featured Image: Detroit Fire Department/Youtube