BRIDGETON, NJ – Hours after jumping into a river chasing a suspect he thought may have been in distress, a New Jersey police officer was found dead at his home.
“The men and women of the Bridgeton Police Department and the entire City of Bridgeton join together in mourning the death of veteran officer Sean Peek who passed away Sunday morning following an on-duty life-saving incident earlier in the morning,” the department said in a release.
Peek, 49, of Millville, a 15-year veteran of the department, was found unresponsive by family members at his home late Sunday morning, according to Bridgeton Police Chief Michael A. Gaimari Sr. who said an official cause of death is pending an autopsy.
“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 and our hearts collectively go out to Megan and their eight-year-old daughter Kate.”
According to the chief, Officer Peek was assigned to the department’s Patrol Bureau working the 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM shift Saturday into Sunday. The chief said he and other officers were dispatched to a Bridgeton Fire Dept. EMT satellite station on Mayor Aitken Drive at approximately 1:30 AM on the report of an unidentified subject striking an ambulance leaving the facility with an unknown object.
Gaimari said upon Officer Peek’s arrival he observed a subject running in the wooded area near the Washington St. Bridgeton that spans the Cohansey River and eventually saw the subject either fall or jump in the river.
“Sean made a decision as would any officer and entered to water in an attempt to pull the person from the running waters no matter what the circumstances,” The chief 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.”
The chief said other responding officers assisted Officer Peek from the water and other officers were able to apprehend the woman, later identified as Sarah Jeanne Davis, 29, of Canton, Conn. Officer Peek was treated at the scene and taken to Inspira Hospital in Bridgeton to be examined as was the woman.
Gaimari said Officer Peek was treated and released from the hospital and relieved of duty until cleared to return to work.
Davis was subsequently released from the hospital as well and was taken into custody charged with burglarizing several city-owned structures along Mayor Aitken Drive including the fire department facility along with breaking several windows and damaging equipment causing more than $1,000 in damage. She was lodged in the Cumberland County Jail pending the completion of the investigation, according to the chief.