Photo via GoFundMe

The city of Worcester, Massachusetts is mourning the loss of police officer Emmanuel “Manny” Familia. The 38-year-old police officer who died while trying to rescue drowning boy. Thousands of mourners gathered in Worcester to honor the life of a fallen hero.

Manny Familia died while trying to rescue 14-year-old Troy Love, who was drowning in a local park pond. Sadly, neither Familia nor Love survived.

The incident happened on Friday, June 4th. First responders arrived at Green Hill Park when witnesses heard cries coming from the center of the pond. According to reports, when police officers arrived, they saw “a boy in the center of the pond, reaching an arm up and struggling”.

“During this rescue attempt, two individuals were brought to shore,” said Worcester Chief Steven Sargent. “At this time, officers on scene realized that one of our officers was missing.” Divers found Familia’s body and rushed him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Manny Familia is leaves behind his wife of 22 years, Jennifer, and his two children, 17-year-old Jayla and 13-year-old Jovan.

Manny Familia was born in La Vega, Dominican Republic. Familia moved to Worcester with his family when he was a young boy. He had been with the police department for five years and was training to join the SWAT team. He was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Anna Maria College. Familia was also the basketball coach for his local church and was a member of the Worcester police department’s basketball team.

“The city of Worcester has lost a hero,” said Chief Sargent in the wake of Familia’s death. “We will remember and honor his selfless devotion to Worcester and his ultimate sacrifice to save someone he didn’t know.”

The mayor of Worcester also honored Familia for his bravery. “This is the type of person that Manny was, someone who would lay down his life for someone else’s child,” said Mayor Joseph Petty.

The city of Worcester honored Manny Familia on Thursday. A horse-drawn carriage carried his casket to the funeral service at St. John’s Catholic church.

A video-feed of the service was also broadcasted at the local minor league baseball stadium for officers who couldn’t make it inside the packed church. The service was in English and Spanish.

“God called your dad up for a special detail up in heaven that only he can fill,” said Emmanuel’s brother, Elvin Familia, to Jayla and Jovan. “Manny left us with an incredible responsibility to look over you, and that’s exactly what we’ll do.”

“We believe that Manny’s life is not lost and his sacrifice is not a waste. But we believe that in his heart there was a call from God to serve others and offer the best he had for them,” said Rev. Diego Buritica.