An off-duty New Jersey transit police officer heroically saved two of his friends from drowning after they got swept away by a rip current at Island Beach State Park.
According to police, New Jersey Transit Police Officer Zachary Sjosward spent his day off fishing with his buddies on September 13 when he left to get something from his car.
When he came back, his friends were gone.
Sjosward soon discovered that his friends got swept out to sea and were in an area without lifeguards.
Police say the off-duty officer scanned the water and spotted one of his friends caught in an apparent rip current and was struggling to stay above the surface.
Without hesitating, Sjosward ran to his car to get a body board and swam out to his friend, attempting to drag him to shore while using the board as a floatation device.
However, the board’s line snapped and was swept away by the current.
The rookie transit officer then relied on his water survival and intervention training, using a rescue technique to bring his friend to shore.
After saving one of his friends, Sjosward saw his other friend out in the waves on the brink of drowning.
“Despite extreme exhaustion, and with disregard for his own life and safety, Sjosward again entered the water,” police said.
Amazingly, the officer fought against the current and brought his other friend to shore safely.
Back on the beach, Sjosward got the attention of a passing motorist, who called 9-1-1. First responders eventually gave emergency medical aid to the friends.
Both friends survived.
“Officer Sjosward’s actions exemplify our NJTPD core values: honor, commitment, integrity and courage,” the NJ Transit Police Department wrote.
The parents and loved ones of the two men who Sjosward saved expressed their gratitude on social media.
“A true hero!! I can never repay Zach for saving my son’s life,” they wrote on the NJ Transit Police Facebook page.
Sjosward is a native of Clifton, New Jersey, and graduated in the 27th class of the Mercer Police Academy in July. During the class, he received the emergency vehicle operations award.
Island Beach Park is located on the Barnegat Peninsula in Berkeley Township and is maintained by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.