City council changes rule that would’ve denied full pension to wife of officer who drowned saving kids


WORCESTER, MA – The Worchester City Council unanimously signed a petition to have the family of a fallen officer, who drowned trying to save some teens stranded in a pond, be granted his full pension

According to current state law in Massachusetts, drowning is currently not considered a line of duty death.

On June 4th, 38-year-old Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia responded to a 911 call regarding about three teenagers that were heard screaming for help while struggling to stay above the water at the Green Hill Pond.

Officer Familia was one of five officers to respond to the scene, and had gone into the water to help rescue the teens. Two of the teens were reportedly rescued. 

However, Officer Familia and 14-year-old Troy Love never surfaced from the water.

Fire department divers were reportedly dispatched, where the young boy and Officer Familia were later pulled from the water and declared deceased after they were rushed to a nearby hospital.

On June 15th, the Worchester City Council signed off on a petition to have the family of the fallen officer obtain his full pension, as current state law doesn’t consider drowning to be a line of duty death. 

Councilor Morris Bergman made the following statement after signing the petition: 

“A police officer gave up his life and we have to make sure his wife and his kids are taken care of. That’s our responsibility as a community, as a city family.

“We certainly want to make sure that the city where Officer Familia served and sacrificed his life is participating and leading the effort.”

The petition signed off by the City Council will now be headed to state lawmakers. Reportedly, state lawmakers are already trying to address the current pension law. 

Rep. Tim Whelan recently filed a state budget amendment that would add a clause to pensions granting full benefits to the spouses of police, firefighters and corrections officers who die in the line of duty by way of an accident while attempting to rescue someone. 

City Councilor Kate Toomey also proposed measures to mitigate the risks associated with Green Hill Pond, as while swimming is not permitted there – people still occasionally do so. 

Councilor Toomey proposed on June 15th that ropes and flotation devices be placed at each body of water within the city, establishing clearer signage on what bodies of water are safe to swim in, as well as a report on the dangerous aspects associated with each body of water.

Speaking on the matter, Councilor Toomey hopes that the presence of ropes and flotation devices near certain bodies of water will deter those from engaging in swimming in unsafe areas: 

“We had a wonderful hero. This has weighed heavily on all of us. It’s an even greater message to say: ‘Look, if we think that there needs to be a safety device, you probably should not be going in here to swim.'”

Said proposal by Councilor Toomey was also passed by the City Council that evening.

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Law Enforcement Today shared a report when news of Officer Familia’s passing first broke. 

Here’s that previous report. 


Editor note: Our team at Law Enforcement Today has confirmed and verified a fundraiser for the fallen officer’s family.  To help support them, click here.

WORCESTER, MA – A 38-year-old Worcester Police officer drowned earlier in June while attempting to save a drowning teen, who sadly also passed away. 

A tragedy through and through, Worcester Police Chief Steven Sargent said that the city “has lost a hero,” with the officer’s passing. 

The fallen officer was identified by officials as 38-year-old Officer Enmanuel Familia, who served the Worcester Police Department for five years before his passing. 

 Chief Sargent stated that the incident occurred on June 4th after reports came in about three teens spotted drowning in a pond at Green Hill Park.

One witness, identified as Sheryl Lamonda, spoke to a local news outlet about the incident: 

“Two kids were in the water trying to hold onto each other in the water when I got here, screaming that they couldn’t swim and that there was somebody else under.”

The police chief stated that five officers had jumped into the water to help the kids, with Officer Familia being one of them. 

Officers were able to rescue two of the teens in the water, however, Officer Familia and a 14-year-old boy never surfaced. Divers were called to the scene to search for Officer Familia and the boy, where both were discovered hours after the initial incident. 

Both Officer Familia and the child were rushed to an area hospital after being discovered, but were sadly pronounced deceased. 

Officials have not released the identity of the teen boy who passed away. 

Chief Sargent shared the following words about Officer Familia: 

“The Worcester Police Department has lost a brother, a friend and a partner, 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.”

Governor Charlie Baker took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the loss suffered by both Officer Familia’s family and that of the young boy who passed: 

Tonight, two families are experiencing unimaginable pain and loss in the wake of a devastating tragedy in Worcester, with [Worcester Police] Officer Manny Familia and a teen losing their lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of both.”

“Officer Familia is a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice while attempting to save the young man. We are thinking of all those grieving tonight, and of Manny’s brothers and sisters at the [Worcester Police Department].”

A personal friend of the fallen officer, Woodrow Adams, Jr., said that Officer Familia was always the type to put others before him: 

“When you hear about the situation about what happened, that’s Manny. Saving other people. Putting his life on the line…He’s always been willing to go above and beyond for others and help people in need.”

Officer Familia leaves behind his wife Jennifer and a son and a daughter.

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