New Jersey

NJ Police Officer Dies After Jumping Into River to Save Woman

Bridgeton Police Officer Sean Peek died hours after jumping into a river in an attempt to rescue a woman fleeing an alleged crime scene

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What to Know

  • Police say a veteran officer was found dead hours after an on-duty live-saving effort in a New Jersey river over the weekend. 
  • Bridgeton's police chief says the department is “devastated” by Sunday morning's death of 49-year-old Sean Peek, a 15-year veteran. 
  • Police said Peek saw someone fall or jump into the Cohansey River early Sunday and went to help. Police say the woman made it across but the officer had trouble getting back to shore due to his equipment. 

A veteran South Jersey police officer died hours after jumping into a river in an attempt to save a woman’s life Sunday.

The Bridgeton Police Department announced on Facebook the death of 49-year-old Officer Sean Peek on Monday.

Peek, a 15-year veteran of the Cumberland County police department, was found unresponsive in his home Sunday morning, police said.

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Peek was working the overnight shift from 7 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday when he and other officers were called to the Bridgeton Fire Department EMT satellite station on Mayor Aitken Drive. They were responding to a report of an ambulance being struck by an unknown object around 1:30 a.m.

When Peek arrived, he saw a woman running into some nearby woods. Peek then saw that woman either fall or jump into the Cohansey River.

“Sean made a decision as would any officer and entered the water in attempt to pull the person from the running waters no matter what the circumstances,” Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari Sr. said. “The woman eventually made it across the river but Officer Peek had difficulty making it back to shore as he was still donning all of his equipment and gear.”

Others officers helped Peek from the water then apprehended the woman, investigators said.

The woman, a 29-year-old from Connecticut, and Peek were examined at a local hospital. Peek was examined and released and told not to return to work until cleared to do so, police said.

An autopsy will determine Peek's cause of death.

“We are naturally devastated here at the department, Sean was a fine officer and a friend to all and always acted in an exemplary fashion when representing the department and the City of Bridgeton,” Gaimari said. “He will be sorely missed."

Peek left behind his wife Megan and their 8-year-old daughter Kate. No funeral arrangments have been announced.

The woman who Peek trailed into the river, Sarah Jeanne Davis, was also released from the hospital. She is charged with burglarizing several city-owned structures – including the EMT station – and breaking windows, police said. She was held in county jail pending the results of the investigation.

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