A National City police corporal and two Harbor police officers were awarded medals Thursday for rescuing a man who fell off a Jet Ski and nearly drowned in San Diego Bay.
Jeff Jarvis, 48, shed tears as he thanked Cpl. Javier Cornejo and Officers Michael Sabbagh and Janel Seney for saving him from choppy waters the afternoon of Oct. 12.
“I had no idea what I was going to do,” he said. “I would have given up.”
Jarvis drove from his home in Los Angeles to attended a ceremony at the Harbor Police Department headquarters. He wore a T-shirt that read: “Police saved my life.”
He and his 14-year-old son were on a rental Jet Ski when a wave knocked them off near the National City Marine Terminal’s dock. His son was able to get back on.
Jarvis had trouble.
An employee of Pasha Automotive Services, a vehicle importer that operates the terminal, threw him a rope, but Jarvis — who has rods in his spine as a result of a surgery — struggled to hold on.
Cornejo was the first officer to find him. All he saw was an arm. The rest of Jarvis’ body was underwater.
“Without even thinking about it,” Cornejo said, he stripped off his duty belt, vest, shirt and boots, then jumped in the water. “It’s the fastest thing I’ve ever done,” he said in an interview two days after the rescue.
Jarvis, who had started to panic, grabbed onto Cornejo, unintentionally pulling him underwater. Cornejo talked to him to calm him down.
Jarvis on Thursday said Cornejo’s words gave him solace and hope.
Other National City officers, who were on the dock, threw Cornejo a police dog leash. The corporal and Jarvis grabbed onto it while the officers kept them afloat.
Moments later, Harbor police Officers Michael Sabbagh and Janel Seney arrived on a boat. They pulled Cornejo and the man onto the vessel.
Sabbagh said moments like Thursday’s reunion with Jarvis “puts your job in perspective.”
Cornejo said it made him happy to see Jarvis with his family — he attended the ceremony with his mother, uncle and son — and that the teen gets to continue “to enjoy his father.”
“I’m happy he’s alive,” Cornejo said. “It allows me to sleep at night.”
Published at Fri, 30 Oct 2020 01:47:51 +0000