Video: Thousands mourn Mass. officer who drowned trying to save teen
Calls came in from law enforcement officials planning to attend the services for Officer Enmanuel Familia from as far away as Ireland
By Melissa Hanson
WORCESTER, Mass. — Remembered as a hero, fallen Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia will be laid to rest on Thursday following a funeral Mass.
Thousands are expected to descend on Worcester to honor the life and sacrifice of Familia, who died Friday trying to save a 14-year-old boy drowning in the pond at Green Hill Park. Both the officer and the boy, Troy Love of Virginia, slipped under the water’s surface and did not make it out alive.
Familia, 38, had been with the police department for five years. Before joining the ranks in Worcester, he worked as an officer at Clark University, at Quinsigamond Community College Police Department and in Oakham.
He leaves his wife of 22 years, Jennifer, and two children, 17-year-old Jayla and 13-year-old Jovan, as well as his parents.
Familia rushed into the water at Green Hill Park around 1:30 p.m. Friday along with four other Worcester officers. During that rescue effort, two young people were pulled from the pond. But officers then realized Familia and Love, who had been struggling in the middle of the water body, were missing.
Divers brought Familia to shore at 2:28 p.m. Love was found at 3:25 p.m. Both were taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
“This is the type of person that Manny was, someone who would lay down his life for someone else’s child,” Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty said last week outside the Worcester Police Department headquarters. Since then, people have left flowers and other mementos on a cruiser parked outside the station, which is draped in black bunting.
Born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, Familia moved to Worcester as a young boy. In 2001, he graduated from Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester. He went on to attend Quinsigamond Community College and was most recently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College.
Former colleagues from Clark University have remembered Familia for his big smile and contagious laugh.
A SOMBER DAY IN WORCESTER— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) June 9, 2021
Massachusetts State Police stood today with their brothers and sisters of Worcester Police Department for the wake of officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia. pic.twitter.com/RKHj0Vaf3N
Clark University Police Sgt. Frank Diaz said that Familia made him want to be a better officer.
“I fondly remember working with Manny, his eagerness to learn and willingness to go above and beyond his normal duties was not only inspirational but contagious,” he said. “He proved himself to be a man of depth and character, you couldn’t help but admire him. I’ll miss his genuine laugh and quick wit.”
Those fond memories will be in mind Thursday morning as a procession takes Familia’s body from Mercadante Funeral Home to St. John’s Church at 44 Temple St. for a funeral Mass. About 300 motorcycle officers are expected to take part in the procession, and Familia’s body will be escorted by a horse-drawn carriage.
The funeral could draw anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 mourners, city officials predicted. Calls have come in from law enforcement officials planning to attend the services from as far away as Ireland.
On Wednesday evening, calling hours were held at St. John’s Church.
Even with just a few years in the department, Familia made an impact, loved ones remembered. Familia was a member of the Worcester Police Department’s Tactical Patrol Force and Crisis Invention Team. He was a crisis negotiator and a recruitment officer. Recently, he was training to join the SWAT Team.
Outside the police station, Familia was devoted to the Worcester community. Off-duty, he was on the department’s basketball team and represented the department in charities.
“When Manny had time off, he remained very active serving as the basketball coach for St. Peter’s Church,” the officer’s obituary read.
In a solemn moment, a horse-drawn carriage carries the remains of #Worcester PD Officer Enmanuel Familia to his funeral service. He died last week while heroically trying to save a boy from drowning. https://t.co/hrRfIGzshJ #NeverForget #RIP pic.twitter.com/GL40XYRltF— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) June 10, 2021
Prayer cards memorializing Enmanuel Familia and framed photos of his cruiser decorate St. John Church ahead of the Worcester Police Officers funeral pic.twitter.com/Ld0Tjrgpxk— Ashley Green (@agreenphotog) June 10, 2021
The loss of Familia comes as his daughter, Jayla, is graduating from high school. His son, Jovan, is a star shortstop on his baseball team.
A GoFundMe page has also been started to help pay for Love’s memorial services.
Worcester Police Chief Steven M. Sargent said the loss of Familia “has been one of the hardest things any of us has had to deal with in our careers. We lost a true hero and the pain we feel from this loss has been overwhelming.”
Flags at Worcester municipal buildings have been lowered to half staff.
The last time a Worcester police officer died in the line of duty was in 2012, a department spokesman said. Peter Kneeland died as a result of injuries he suffered in 1991 after being struck by a vehicle on duty.
A number of roads will be closed during the funeral. Police have asked drivers to plan ahead.
Members of the Worcester Police Department have arrived at At. John Church for the funeral of fellow Officer Enmanuel Familia pic.twitter.com/TCJIqaLZ5H— Ashley Green (@agreenphotog) June 10, 2021
A funeral mass for fallen @WorcesterPD Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia will be held at St. John’s Church at 10 am. Thousands are expected to attend. Officer Familia died in the line of duty last Friday trying to save a teenager who also drowned in a pond. @boston25 pic.twitter.com/0xPVIEkoZ9— Kelly Sullivan (@ksullivannews) June 10, 2021
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