When Worcester police officer Manny Familia drowned trying to save a 14-year-old boy last summer it hit his family hard.
“Coming to grips with the fact that we had lost Manny has been the hardest task my family has had to endure,” Elvin Familia, Manny’s brother, told NBC10 Boston & NECN.
They turned their sorrow into action, creating the Manny 267 Foundation dedicated to preventing another tragedy like this. With financial support from UMass Chan Medical School among others they developed the Manny Tube, a flotation device that can support up to five people. Every police vehicle in the city will carry one and officers will be trained in their use at the Central Branch YMCA.
“This is a full circle moment for us because that is the first YMCA where Manny and I grew up and became lifeguards,” Elvin said.
There will also be swimming lessons for those who want them. The city manager, Edward Augustus, says after the tragic loss of Manny he told the family the city would wrap its arms around them.
“What I wasn’t expecting is that you were going to wrap your arms back around this police department and this community and that’s what this foundation is doing.”
Elvin Familia said his brother is watching.
“He’s proud. He’s proud and this is exactly what we are trying to do. Make sure his name is attached to good and his legacy is intact and this community is helping us with that.”
And they carry on the work of Officer Manny Familia.
“It’s important for us to make sure the community is safe and we prevent this tragedy from ever happening again.”
Worcester is the only department being equipped with the Manny tube for now, but Elvin said their goal is to take it nationwide.