ESSEX COUNTY, NJ – During a special presentation held at the Hall of Records on Wednesday July 10, 2019, Freeholder President Brendan Gill and the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders honored Michael Benjamin James for his service and bravery in assisting a fellow citizen in distress.
On March 4, 2019, a car accidentally drove off of Route 21 into the Passaic River and was submerged. The only part of the car that was above water was the trunk, and a woman was trapped on top of it screaming for help. Michael showed true courage and selflessness by jumping into the river and assisting the woman back to dry land.
Freeholder Gill stated while presenting the Commendation, “It has been a few months since this occurred, but when I heard of the courage that you displayed, I asked our staff to make sure that we would have an opportunity to officially recognize you before the Board. I’m happy that you could make it here tonight, and I’m honored to personally thank you for your service.”
James, a Navy Veteran, sees himself as a “regular guy” who is happy that he was in the right place at the right time. He is currently a Signal Maintainer at New Jersey Transit. Prior to that, he was an Aviation Electronics Technician in the United States Navy from 2010 to 2014. Upon receiving the Commendation for his service, he thanked everyone for coming, thanked his family, and expressed how humbled he was by the attention he has received.
He is the son of proud parents Peter James and Janet Shuler, and learned the life lessons of hard work, humility, kindness and caring from his grandfather Jack Ruh, who was a volunteer fireman for years.
Freeholder At-Large Patricia Sebold, District 4 Freeholder Leonard Luciano, and District 5 Freeholder Carlos Pomares were also in attendance.
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For Additional Information:
Kyalo Mulumba, Public Information Officer
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders
973-621-4452 (phone) 973-621-5695 (fax)