WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — The death of a Massachusetts police officer who drowned while trying rescue a teenager from a pond is a powerful lesson in self-sacrifice, the priest who presided over the funeral Mass said Thursday.
Worcester Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia, 38, died last Friday trying to save 14-year-old Troy Love, who was visiting the city from Virginia. He also died.
“He didn't think about the consequences of jumping into that lake," said the Rev. Diego Buritica inside St. John's Catholic church, packed with family, police officers and dignitaries including Gov. Charlie Baker. “He just did it."
A video feed of the dual language Mass was shown at the city's new minor league baseball stadium near the church for officers unable to get inside.
“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,” Buritica said.
Familia was the “life of the family,” his older brother, Elvin Familia, said in his eulogy, both touching and humorous.
People were often confused as to who was older, he said.
“He can grow a full beard; I’m still working on it,” he said to laughter.
The officer was “dedicated to anything and everything he did,” was passionate, fierce, and adored his children more than anything, Elvin Familia said.
“God called your dad up for a special detail up in heaven that only he can fill,” Elvin Familia said to his niece and nephew. “Manny left us with an incredible responsibility to look over you, and that’s exactly what we’ll do.”
He also urged mourners not to forget the Love family.
“We’re sorry for your loss, we feel your pain, and we know your emptiness,” he said. Funeral arrangements for the teen are pending.
The officer’s younger brother, Eric Familia, called him a “big brother like no other.”
Familia's body was brought to the church in a horse-drawn carriage as hundreds of fellow officers lined the streets and members of the public looked on. The Mass was followed by burial.
Familia had been with the department for five years after serving as an officer at two local colleges and in the small town of Oakham.
He leaves behind his wife of 22 years, Jennifer, and two children, 17-year-old Jayla and 13-year-old Jovan.
Familia was born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, and moved to Worcester as a young boy.
Worcester Police Chief Steven Sargent last week called the loss of Familia “overwhelming.”
Familia was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College. He was a member of the department’s tactical patrol force and crisis intervention team, and had been training to join the SWAT Team, according to his obituary.
He was on the department’s basketball team and represented the department at charitable events.
This story corrects spelling of priest’s name to Buritica.