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Procession Honors 'Hero' Worcester Police Officer Manny Familia, Who Died Trying To Save Drowning Teen

WORCESTER (CBS) -- Police gathered in Worcester Saturday morning to pay their respects as the body of Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia was escorted from UMass Memorial Hospital to the Medical Examiner's office in Westfield. First responders and community members lined the streets in honor of Familia.

firefighters worcester procession
Firefighters pay their respects as a police procession for Worcester Office Manny Familia passes (WBZ-TV)

The 38-year-old was trying to save a 14-year-old Troy Love who drowned in Green Hill Pond on Friday afternoon. Police rushed to the pond after 911 callers reported three children struggling in the water.

Familia was a five-year veteran of department.

"The Worcester Police Department has lost a brother, friend and a partner," Worcester Police Chief Steven M. Sargent said. "The City of Worcester has lost a hero."

Flags will be flown at half-staff in the city until further notice.

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

"We will remember and honor his selfless devotion to Worcester and his ultimate sacrifice to save someone he didn't know," Sargent said.

Officer Familia's close friends are devastated, but not surprised that he did not hesitate to jump in the water.

worcester police officer manny familia
Worcester Police Officer Manny Familia (Photo credit: Jose Rosado)

"When you hear about the situation about what happened, that's Manny. Saving other people. Putting his life on the line," said Woodrow Adams, Jr. "He's always been willing to go above and beyond for others and help people in need."

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said his thoughts and prayers are with the two families.

"Officer Familia is a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice while attempting to save the young man," Baker tweeted. "We are thinking of all those grieving tonight, and of Manny's brothers and sisters at the Worcester Police Department."

One day after the tragedy, the parking lot at Green Hill Park was off limits on what would normally be a busy day.

It didn't stop people from walking down to the water to pay respects.

"I wanted to just educate them, and let them know that superheroes aren't just in the comic books," said Adriana Colon, who brought her two young sons to lay a bouquet of roses by the edge of the pond.

"Manny was a big hero," said her son Kojo.

Jerome Lee came to Green Hill Pond early Saturday morning with candles, and stayed for hours.

"Just wanted to come think about my friend Manny," he said. "A funny guy; athletic, smart, played basketball, baseball," he said about Familia. "He's definitely a hero all the way through."

Troy Love
Troy Love. (Image Credit: Eric Diaz)

Love's family says he was visiting cousins in Worcester from Virginia.

"He was a good swimmer," said his aunt, Erica Diaz. "He swam across so many lakes in Virginia, they didn't think anything of it. Halfway through, he went under and didn't come back up."

GoFundMe accounts have been set up for both the Familia and Love families to help with expenses.

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