WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - Loved ones, thousands of police officers from near and far, and community members are gathering Wednesday to pay their final respects to a Worcester police officer who drowned in a pond while trying to rescue a 14-year-old boy who also drowned.
Calling hours for Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia were held at St. John’s Catholic Church, where first responders surrounded and saluted his casket as he was carried into the church.
“This is a moment of which we come together as a city of Worcester who has known this great grief and experienced this great grief before with the passing of the firefighters,” Father Jonathan Slavinskas said. “We’ve brought them to this same church in the past and bid them farewell into the arms of God.”
Familia’s cruiser could be seen parked outside the church, draped in black bunting and decorated with a wreath. The Worcester police force also marched in unison to honor the man who worked alongside them for five years.
Wenham Police Chief Kevin DiNapoli added, “It’s obviously been a real hard year for police and law enforcement…One thing we’ve done through all this is stick together and we’ll continue to stick together.”
Twelve-year-old Worcester native Ryan Mascara says he made it a point to honor Familia’s service to the community.
“I feel like one of my family members has died,” the boy said. “I care about the police so much.”
Townsend Police Chief James Sartell made the 45-minute trek south to make it known that his department is here to comfort Worcester in a time of need.
“It’s times like these when we just try to our part to bring comfort in anyway we can,” Sartell said. Just to bring comfort to the people who are affected most by the loss.”Community comes together to honor fallen Worcester police officerhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.464.0_en.html#goog_1293612108Play Video
Familia’s younger brother, Eric, said he is not surprised that his brother rushed into Green Hill Pond on Friday in an attempt to rescue the drowning teen.
“It didn’t matter if he had the uniform or not. He would have gone 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.”
The five-year veteran’s selfless devotion to the community and his family is how his loved ones plan to remember him.
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 added that 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 on 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,” Eric Familia said. “He was definitely one of them. He’s a hero.”
A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday at St. John’s Catholic Church with a burial to follow.
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