Marietta officer Matthew Salyers has only been on the job for eight months, but he’s already a hero in the eyes of two people.
Salyers has been commended for saving a Gwinnett County couple from drowning while they were on vacation in Destin, Florida, over the Memorial Day weekend.
Regina Beard and Darren Howard were riding Jet Skis in the Gulf of Mexico when they entered some rough waters. Salyers told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he and his family members, who were also riding Jet Skis, saw the couple as they were going out into the Gulf. As Salyers turned around to come back to shore, he noticed the Jet Skis occupied by the couple were empty.
Beard and Howard had been knocked into the gulf and were struggling to get back on the Jet Skis. Salyers said he heard Howard yell, “She can’t swim! Help!”
The 22-year-old officer and his family, including his father, former Marietta police officer Jeffrey Salyers, went to rescue the pair.
“I knew I had to get her on the Jet Ski first to calm the other guy down,” he said of Beard.
Salyers pulled Beard on his Jet Ski and his brother-in-law retrieved Howard from the water. While they were traveling back to shore, Salyers told Beard he was a Marietta officer and she told him she was from Gwinnett County.
Salyers went on with his vacation, and put the encounter in the back of his mind. About a week and a half later, Salyers said he received a call from his sergeant who told him Beard reached out to the department to thank him for rescuing her and her boyfriend.
“I didn’t know someone would take time out of their day just to call the place where somebody works and thank them,” Salyers said.
That wasn’t enough for Beard. Marietta police spokesman Chuck McPhilamy said Beard and Howard traveled to Marietta Tuesday to thank Salyers in person and to show everyone how “meaningful it was to her.”
Salyers received a letter of commendation from Chief Dan Flynn, but McPhilamy said the department’s awards committee will consider the officer’s actions for a formal recognition.
Salyers, who joined the police department to make a difference in the community, said the training he received in the police academy helped him remain calm while saving Beard and Howard.
“I think if I didn’t have the police training, the outcome would have been different,” he said.
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