Coast Guard, Detroit Fire Department honor sergeant who died rescuing children from drowning near Belle Isle

Sivad Johnson was a 26-year veteran of the fire department

Coast Guard, Detroit Fire Department honor fireman who died rescuing children from river

DETROIT – In August 2020, Detroit Fire Sgt. Sivad Johnson rushed into the Detroit River to rescue three children struggling to stay afloat.

It was a special, yet emotional occasion on Wednesday, Sept. 8, for Will Johnson as he watched the Detroit Fire Department and Coast Guard honor his son, who died while off duty.

“Sivad, in his life, wanted to be a positive influence on people. He was an inspirational speaker, and in his passing, his dreams were quickened. I’m just honored to be his dad,” William Johnson said.

Both Sivad Johnson and another hero, Matthew Pfromm, saved three kids who were drowning in the Detroit River off Belle Isle.

“When you think about that and the question becomes ‘How does someone give that level of bravery and courage and the awareness to save those children?’” said Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones.

The Coast Guard and DFD recognized both Johnson and Pfromm for their heroic efforts. They even named a rescue boat after Sivad -- a huge recognition within fire department.

“If you knew my brother the way I knew him, of course. it’s really not a surprise. He’s done amazing things all his life,” said Sivad’s brother, Jamal Johnson.

Johnson also received the Silver Lifesaving Medal. The award is given from the Coast Guard to citizens -- either military or civilian -- who rescue or try to rescue another person from drowning, shipwreck or other incidents in the water of the United States.