MA Police Officer Drowns Trying to Rescue Teen

June 5, 2021
Worcester Police Officer Manny Familia, 38, was among the first responders who went into Green Hill Pond on Friday to rescue several swimmers in distress.

Jun. 5—Tragedy struck Worcester as a police officer who dove into Green Hill Pond for a rescue attempt and a teenager both drowned, according to authorities.

"The Worcester Police Department suffered two unimaginable, devastating losses," Police Chief Steven Sargent told reporters on Friday evening. "We lost one of our brother officers, along with a 14-year-old male."

The dead police officer is 38-year-old Manny Familia, a five-year veteran of the department. He leaves behind a wife and two children, the chief said.

Police are not yet identifying the teenager who died.

Sargent, speaking in a solemn press conference just a few hours after the two died, said police and firefighters were responding to a call around 1:35 p.m. Friday for someone in distress in the water at the pond at Green Hill Park.

Officers arriving on the scene saw people in the water — and "a male towards the center of the pond, ditching an arm up and struggling."

Five officers dove into the water. Four came out, rescuing two people from the lake. The first responders realized one of their own was missing — and that the person from the middle of the pond hadn't come out, either.

"It was now apparent we had two victims," Sargent said outside the police station, flanked by dozens of officers — some wiping their eyes, many with black bands of morning across their badges.

Divers located Familia's body at 2:28 p.m. and the teenager's at 3:25 p.m.

"The police department has lost a brother, a friend and a partner," Sargent said. "And the city of Worcester has lost a hero. We will remember and honor his selfless devotion to Worcester and his ultimate sacrifice to save someone he didn't know."

City Manager Ed Augustus noted that the quick work of other police officers led to the rescue of "two minors in distress."

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty said, "This is a type of person that Manny was — someone who would lay down his life for someone else's child."

Behind them, the American flag flew at half mast.

This happened just minutes after a separate incident in another part of the commonwealth struck pain into the Massachusetts first-responder community. A yet-unidentified man shot two police officers in Braintree shortly after 1 p.m. after a call for a domestic disturbance.

The two were rushed to local hospitals and are believed to survive, but one officer's police dog was fatally shot. The gunman, too, was killed in a woodland shootout, according to authorities.

Worcester's first responders have seen several of their own die over the years. Two firefighters from the City of Seven Hills were killed in house fires since 2018 — hearkening memories of the "Worcester Six" who died in the disastrous Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. fire in 1999.

"I stand before you and ask our city to do again what it has had to do ... all too often, wrap its arms around this family," Augustus said. "And around this department."


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