For two hours on Wednesday night, Hopewell Township Police Department didn’t know whether three of their officers were dead or alive. Officer James Hoffman, a 24-year veteran of the force, was responding to a routine floodwater rescue call when his own car began rapidly taking on water. Hoffman ditched the vehicle and swam to a nearby tree. Two officers sent to look for Hoffman—Michael Makwinski and Robert Voorhees±were also forced to swim through churning floodwaters after their own car was submerged.
The rescue was a coordinated effort by multiple crews: firefighters from Hopewell and nearby Lawrence located the officers (aided by the three men themselves, who fired their guns to alert rescuers to their exact position), and a team from Hamilton brought boats and swift-water rescue gear to pull them out of the water. “We’re very lucky they were able to hold on the way they did,” the police director told local media. The officers were taken to a local hospital after the rescue. All three were uninjured, albeit exhausted and soaked.