WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - Putting service before self is what Worcester police officer Manny Familia did on Friday, when he dove into Green Hill Pond to try and save a teenager from drowning.
The Worcester community and Familia’s family are in mourning trying to work through the tragic loss.
“These are our brothers and sisters risking their lives every day … and my brother paid for that,” Familia’s heartbroken brother Eric said.
He said he is not at all surprised his older brother displayed such heroism that day.
“It didn’t matter if he had the uniform or not. He would have come in there for anyone,” he said.
Familia was a good swimmer and worked as a lifeguard when he was younger. Despite that, the 38-year old husband and father lost his life in the water.
“It’s just a tragedy that he had to be the one … and he had to leave us too soon,” said his brother.
His cousin Alex Maracallo, a Worcester police officer himself, said Familia always wanted to become a police officer.
“We came from the Dominican Republic. English is our second language,” Maracallo said. “This is the land of opportunity and we wanted to show our community our gratitude by serving.”
Though his life was cut too short, it is the way that Familia lived his life that is now offering loved ones some solace in their sorrow.
Familia lived up to his name — “family” first. He met his wife Jennifer at church when they were teenagers. He changed his work schedule so he could be in the stands for every single one of his son Jovan’s baseball games.
He even selected badge number 267 to symbolize the day his daughter was born and the seven letters in his last name.
“I want him to be remembered as an amazing father, a great brother, a loving son, and a brother not only to myself but all the men and when he served with,” Eric Familia said.
He said the Worcester police force has proven they will forever remember his brother and stand for him by showing up to cheer on his 13-year-old son at his playoff game Sunday.
They all know it could have been one of them that lost their lives responding to a call.
“That just shows you the brave men and women we have … he was definitely one of them. He’s a hero,” Familia said.
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