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Hunky sergeant saves woman from river — and now everyone wants to be 'rescued'

Sgt. Billy Irvin was heralded as a hero, and his popularity prompted the sheriff's office to release a tongue-in-cheek PSA.
/ Source: TODAY

He's just the kind of hero everyone dreams of: Sgt. Billy Irvin, of Jacksonville, Florida, found himself unexpectedly in the spotlight last week after he leaped into the St. Johns River to save a woman who was floating in the water.

According to a June 8 post the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office shared on Facebook, Irvin “immediately entered the water in an attempt to rescue the person,” and was fortunately able to reach the woman and help her onto a nearby boat. The Sheriff’s Office confirmed to TODAY that the woman survived and is on the mend.

A fellow sergeant at the scene snapped a photo of Irvin — included with the post — after he emerged from the water, along with a caption that reads, in part: “This photo was taken by a fellow sergeant as Sgt. Billy Irvin got off the boat. He is a hero to all of us and all of the people who witnessed this going on. Numerous citizens came up to Sgt. Irvin just to shake his hand thanking him for his heroic efforts and jumping in the river.”

The photo has been shared more than 5,900 times, with roughly 21,000 reactions.

In response to the attention that Irvin’s image has attracted, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office shared a tongue-in-cheek public service announcement to deter anyone who would try to put themselves in harm’s way just to meet the hunky hero.

“We can’t believe it’s come to this,” the comment reads. “We’ve had so many offers to have Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Irvin rescue women from the St. John’s river that we’d like to remind you all of the following: A. Sgt. Irvin works shift work (and we’re not telling you which shift) so there’s no guarantee that he’ll be on duty. B. You don’t get to pick which hero comes to your rescue but all of our members are available to come to any citizen’s aid 24/7. C. Jumping in the SJR is dangerous and there are much safer options to meet a great guy. D. There’s nothing our members won’t do, WITHIN POLICY, to help any of our citizens have a safe and awesome day! Please have a safe, happy, and DRY weekend!”

When reached for comment, the Sheriff’s Office public information officer simply told TODAY, “That story is really making quite the splash!”