3 Cops Cling to Trees for Hours After Getting Swept Away in Storm That Killed 23 in New Jersey

The three officers were helping with rescue efforts after the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused storms in the Northeast

New Jersey flooding
Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty

Three New Jersey police officers are lucky to be alive after they were forced to hang onto trees amid flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

Officer James Hoffman of Hopewell Township responded to a rescue call on Wednesday night, but soon found himself trapped in floodwaters, according to a post on the city's Facebook page.

"While struggling to reach the person in need, his vehicle was swept sideways and was rapidly lifted by the rising water of Stony Brook," the post said. "Very quickly he realized he needed to get out of the car, but the door would not open due to the pressure of the water. He removed the gear he was wearing and was able to escape the vehicle through the window."

Hoffman then traveled about 100 yards until he was able to grab ahold of a tree.

New Jersey flooding
Michael M. Santiago/Getty

Two other officers, Michael Makwinski and Robert Voorhees, ventured out to rescue Hoffman, but soon found themselves also hanging onto a tree to protect themselves from the fast-moving waters.

Hoffman, Makwinski and Voorhees were rescued about two hours later, the city said in their message.

"With all three officers in the water, holding on to trees for approximately 2 hours, rescue units from all over the area and the state arrived to provide aid," their post read. "The three officers were rescued by the efforts of the swift water rescue teams from the Union Titusville Fire Company, the Lawrenceville Fire Company and the Hamilton Fire Department."

According to NJ.com, the officers fired their guns to help rescue crews track down their location.

"We owe them a debt of gratitude," Hopewell Township Police Director Bob Karmazin told the outlet of rescue workers who arrived at the scene.

RELATED VIDEO: 2-Year-Old Boy Among 22 People Dead After Ida Batters the Northeast with Record Rain and Tornadoes

Other police officers in areas affected by the storm were not so fortunate. In Connecticut, a state trooper was killed Thursday morning after his cruiser was swept away in heavy flooding, according to WFSB.

On Thursday afternoon, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said 23 people in the state have died during the storm so far.

"The majority of these deaths were individuals who got caught in their vehicles by flooding and were overtaken by the water," he said. "Our prayers are with their family members."

Before being downgraded to a tropical storm, Hurricane Ida touched down in Louisiana as a category 4 hurricane earlier this week.

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