Enmanuel “Manny” Familia, the Worcester, Mass., police officer who sacrificed his life Friday when he rushed into a pond at Green Hill Park to try to save a 14-year-old boy, will be laid to rest on Thursday.
Born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, the 38-year-old officer moved to Worcester as a young boy and graduated from Doherty Memorial High School in 2001. He went on to attend Quinsigamond Community College and was most recently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College, according to his obituary.
A member of the Worcester Police Department for the past five years, Familia first worked as an officer for the Oakham Police Department, Quinsiqamond Community College’s Police Department and the Clark University Police Department. He also had been a supervising officer for the state Department of Youth Services.
Members of the Clark University Police Department recalled Familia’s “loud energetic voice” and personality that captivated those around him.
Clark University Police Chief Lauren Misale said the community is heartbroken.
“Manny had a smile that lit up the room, could joke with the best of them, and his laugh was contagious. His kids were his everything. You could see in his eyes every time he brought them in to play ball or talked about them how proud he was of them,” she said. “We want his family to know that they will always be a part of the CUPD family.”
Officers rushed to Green Hill Park around 1:35 p.m. Friday after receiving reports of a person struggling in the water. Five officers went into the pond and were able to rescue two people.
Familia and a 14-year-old boy, identified by his family as Troy Love, were still missing, however. The teen was visiting Worcester with family from Virginia.
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.
Friday was a difficult day for law enforcement in Massachusetts. Familia died trying to save the teen and two officers in Braintree were shot. Both are expected to recover. Braintree police K-9 Kitt was killed as officers responded to a “dangerous domestic incident.”
In a statement Sunday, Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason reflected on the terrible events that day.
“They have modeled for us what is noble and right about law enforcement: service to others above self,” Mason said.
“It is that spirit that inspires us this day and strengthens our resolve to carry on their decent and good work in support of the people of the Commonwealth.”
The colonel noted one of his troopers, Amy Waterman, joined “the brave Worcester officers” who entered the water Friday.
Familia leaves his wife, Jennifer, and their two children, Jayla and Jovan.
Jayla, 17, is graduating from high school and Jovan, 13, is a star shortstop on his baseball team, according to a GoFundMe page that has been launched to help the family.