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Detroit fire sergeant dies rescuing girls from drowning near Belle Isle

Sivad Johnson was with the Detroit Fire Department for more than 20 years

DETROIT – The body of a 49-year-old fire sergeant was recovered from the Detroit River Saturday afternoon.

At about 9 p.m. Friday, Sivad Johnson went missing trying to save a group of girls in the Detroit River near Belle Isle.

Johnson was a 26-year veteran of the Detroit Fire Department’s Fire Engine 59 and a recipient of the 2017 Medal of Valor.

“He was my idol,” said Jamal Johnson, Sgt. Sivad Johnson’s brother. “He was always a hero to me.”

Sgt. Johnson always wanted to help others and he died doing just that.

According to Detroit Fire Department Executive Fire Commissioner Eric Jones, Sgt. Johnson was swimming in the river with his 10-year-old daughter when he heard some young girls screaming for help.

“He and two other civilians heard either one child or up to three children struggling in the water,” Jones said. “Sgt. Johnson, along with other civilians, entered the water to make a rescue of the children.”

The little girls were saved, but Sgt. Johnson never returned.

All Friday night and all day Saturday, crews searched the water looking for the missing sergeant. Divers with the Detroit Police Department located the man’s body Saturday afternoon.

“I just want the Johnson family to know the thoughts of every single Detroiter is with Sivad Johnson and the family today,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

“I love him and I just want to thank everybody from the bottom of my heart,” Jamal Johnson said. “We just want to ask everybody for your continued prayers. I’m speechless.”

Jamal Johnson says this is a tough time for the family, especially because Sgt. Johnson’s birthday is coming up on Sept. 5.

Sgt. Johnson is survived by his two daughters, brother and father.


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