Sergeant Sivad Johnson was considered a hero long before he risked his own life to save three drowning girls on the Detroit River at Belle Island.
In his own words in a 2018 recorded The Moth Podcast by NPR, “I know we can’t save everybody, but we try.”
Sivad and his 10-year old daughter were walking along the Detroit Yacht Club when he along with two other civilians heard voices crying for help.
The 26-year old veteran immediately jumped into the scene and helped out until they were able to save them. But after the 45-minute struggle in the water, Johnson was nowhere to be found.
His daughter called 911 at 9 PM and said that she hadn’t seen her dad come up from the water.
According to the investigation, there were a lot of rip currents in the river at the night of the incident. The boats that were driven by the civilians picked up the rescued girls.
Michigan State Police believe that the good sergeant was dragged underwater by the rip current and no one noticed.
Police, firefighters, and rescuers searched all night until the next day for the body. They found it in the afternoon of the next day.
Sergeant Johnson was more than just a firefighter. He was a second-generation firefighter. He was honored with the Medal of Valor which is awarded to brave men and women who put their life on the line for others.
Johnson is also known for his other contributions to the city and to the firefighters. His artworks make it to children’s books and local businesses. The current logo of the Detroit Fire Department was also designed by him.
Letters were sent to the family. One such letter read that Sivad was a hero and a gift from God.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan attended the funeral and said to the family, “What he did will never be forgotten. I just want the Johnson family to know that this entire city shares your grief with you today.”