Marietta officer saves Georgia couple from drowning on Florida vacation

Matt Salyers was on a jet ski when he saw a couple struggling in the water about a mile from the shore near an abandoned watercraft.??

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A Marietta police officer just happened to be in  exactly the right place at the right time on a recent trip to Florida -- and it likely saved a Georgia couple's lives.

Officer Matt Salyers told Channel 2's Berndt Petersen that he was on his last day vacation at Destin with his family over Memorial Day weekend. He was on a jet ski when he saw a couple struggling in the water about a mile from the shore near an abandoned watercraft.

"As I turned around, all I see is just the jet ski floating," Salyers said. "I'm like, 'Wait. There's people who were just on that jet ski.'"

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Salyers raced to the rescue with the help of other members of his family, and they pulled Regina Beard and Darren Howard out of the water.

"He was screaming, like in a panic," Salyers said. "He said his girlfriend couldn't swim. 'She can't swim! Help me get her out!'"

Salyers said on his return trip to the dock, he learned the couple is from Gwinnett County.

This week, the couple reunited with Salyers at the Marietta Police Department to thank him for his heroic actions.


Initially, Salyers didn't tell anyone about the rescue, but the couple wanted to show him they appreciated what he did that day.

The Police Department posted a sweet video showing photos of the couple with Salyers and some of the moments of the rescue.

"We are extremely proud of Officer Salyers. He's a really good officer, and he really cares about his community," Officer Paul Hill, with the Marietta Police Department, said.

Salyers said Beard was especially relieved to be back on dry land after the rescue.

"To hear her voice again and see her was an amazing experience," Salyers said of their reunion.

The police department said the couple doesn't want to be interviewed after the traumatic experience.

Salyers said he's just glad he was there to help and that he was just doing his job -- even if he was on vacation.

"It doesn't matter if we're in 'our' jurisdiction. It doesn't matter if we're in our state," Salyers said.

It certainly was a vacation they will all never forget.