Fraser man jumps into Detroit River alongside DFD Sgt. to save drowning girls

Detroit Fire Department's Sivad Johnson did not survive

Fraser man jumps into Detroit River alongside DFD Sgt. to save drowning girls
Fraser man jumps into Detroit River alongside DFD Sgt. to save drowning girls

DETROIT – “I seen them struggling and I seen three heads out there, so I decided to take it into my hands and go out there and give the girls assistance, because I didn’t want to see them die,” said Matthew Pfromm.

Matthew Pfromm is only talking to Local 4. He’s recalling what happened in the Detroit River on Belle Isle on Friday night when three girls almost drowned.

Pfromm said he immediately jumped in the water with another man right behind him. That man was Detroit Fire Fighter 48-year old Sivad Johnson.

READ: Detroit fire sergeant dies rescuing girls from drowning near Belle Isle

Johnson was there with his 10-year old daughter, “Mr. Johnson also assisted me, he was right behind me and there was a boat out there. We went to the girls, we did our best to get to them,” said Pfromm.

He got to one of them first, the other two were rescued by a man in the boat nearby.

“The boat which was a blessing, for him to be there because if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have made it out of there either. He threw life preservers out to the young girls,” said Pfromm.

Both Pfromm and the girls made it back to shore, “I heard a little girl, screaming saying, ‘Where’s my daddy?’ And I was like who is your dad? She said he was the guy who went in with you. It came to me, like yeah he was there with me and where is he now? He was right behind me at one point, and then 5-10 minutes later, nobody knew where he went.”

He called 911 and Johnson’s family. Police searched Friday night and all day Saturday. Detroit Police divers found his body Saturday afternoon.

“It’s still with me. Knowing that Mr. Johnson never made it out of here, is very, is very, it hurts. "

How to Help

An online fundraiser has been created to help the family.


About the Author:

Larry Spruill Jr. joined the Local 4 News team in January 2018. Prior, he worked at WJAX in Jacksonville, Florida. Larry grew up as a military kid because his father is a retired Chief of the United States Air Force.