City approves petition to give drowned officer’s family full pension, change law

By Michael Bonner

WORCESTER, Mass. — The Worcester City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to approve a petition that would help provide Officer Enmanuel Familia’s family with his full pension.

Familia died on June 4 in a pond at Green Hill Park after he entered the water trying to rescue a 14-year-old boy, who also drowned.

Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia (Worcester Police Department)

Under Massachusetts law, drowning is not considered a line-of-duty death, which means that Familia’s wife would not get his full pension.

“I think it’s the least we could do for the family,” Councilor-at-large Morris Bergman said. “I also think it sends a very strong and positive message that we should be taking care of our own first responders in times of tragedy such as this.”

Every councilor signed onto Bergman’s resolution for City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. to draft a home rule petition in amending M.G.L. Chapter 32-Section 100 to include drowning as a “result of attempting to save the life of another in the performance if his/her duties” as a category entitled to receive said pension.

After the petition is drafted it will reappear before the council before it is sent to lawmakers, who are also working on an amendment to the pension law.

Councilor-at-large Kate Toomey also put forth a resolution that would support children of fallen police and firefighters to continue receiving medical benefits be called “Manny’s Law.”

Toomey said Worcester already provides benefits to the children of fallen police and firefighters through the age of 26. However, the resolution would encourage the state to follow suit.

To prevent another tragedy, Toomey requested Augustus work with public works to provide a safety flotation device and rope at each of the city’s bodies of water. The order also included requiring appropriate signage indicating whether it is an appropriate place to swim or not.

Toomey also requested Augustus provide the council with a a report concerning the dangers associated with each body of water, including weeks, currents and deep drop offs.

The council approved both measures.

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