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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The body of a Metro police officer who went missing during a water rescue Thursday morning was recovered by a Nashville Fire Department diver several hours after he went into the water.
Metro police identified the fallen officer as 44-year-old Eric Mumaw, an 18-year veteran of the force. He was a member of the Madison precinct and had received numerous awards and recognitions over the years, including Metro’s Lifesaving Award in 2011.
“Eric was one of those guys that I was always glad to see come in. We always traded insults with each other in a friendly way. That’s how he was with everybody,” said Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson. “I know he died doing what he loved. He loved this midnight shift and he gave his life. I know his whole detail is over there and they’re grieving. They’re going to miss him, but we’ll get through this with Nashville’s support.”
The call for the rescue at Peeler Park Greenway Trailhead on Neelys Bend Road went out at 4:16 a.m. after 911 received a call from a family member of Juli Glisson, 40.
Family told dispatchers she was in a car on the boat ramp and had a history of being suicidal.
Officers Mumaw, Trent Craig and Nick Diamond responded to the scene and spent several minutes trying to convince Glisson to get out of the car, which was at the bottom of the ramp.
Metro police said Diamond was on the passenger side of the vehicle while Mumaw and Craig spoke with the woman through her driver’s side window.
According to a press release, as Craig reached in to prevent Glisson from putting the car into gear, Mumaw tried to open her door. It is believed she then put the car into gear and it headed into the river.
Officers Mumaw and Diamond went with the car and lost their balance when they stepped off of the end of the boat ramp. The two were pulled further into the river by the car.
Police say Diamond attempted to reach for Mumaw as Mumaw drifted further into the river, but he lost his grip.
Craig ran along the riverbank for a short distance, saw the top of Mumaw’s head and jumped into the water, which Metro police said came up to his neck. The water temperature and conditions were too much, and authorities said Craig was forced to get out of the river.
Mumaw was last seen by his fellow officer 40 to 50 yards from the banks, where the water is estimated to be 15 feet deep.
His body was discovered less than 100 yards from the boat ramp around 8:15 a.m.
“Our worst fears were realized today when Officer Mumaw was recovered deceased from the Cumberland River after having given his life to save a woman in distress. Officer Mumaw dedicated his life to the safety and protection of us all, and today he gave his life to that calling,” Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said.
She continued, “My thoughts and prayers are with Officer Mumaw’s family and friends and all of our Metro-Nashville police officers today. I want to thank the men and women of our Metro-Nashville Police Department and Nashville Fire Department, as well as the city of Hendersonville, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Army Corps of Engineers who all came together this morning to assist in the search for Officer Mumaw.”
The Metro courthouse, Korean Veterans Bridge, and other buildings will be lit in blue Thursday night in honor of Mumaw. Mayor Barry also directed Metro buildings to fly flags at half-staff to honor the honor the officer’s life and service.
He is the eighteenth Metro officer to die in the line of duty since 1963.
A candelight vigil is being held at 7 p.m. Friday at Peeler Park. A visitation will be held from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. Monday at Cornerstone Church, located at 726 W. Old Hickory Boulevard in Madison. The memorial service will begin at 12 p.m.
To send your condolences to Officer Mumaw’s family and colleagues, you can email OfficerMumaw@nashville.gov.
Officer Diamond was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for treatment. Fellow officers told News 2 late Thursday morning that he was “doing good” and later released.
Officer Craig was treated at the scene and did not go to a hospital.
The officers will undergo “critical incident debriefing,” which is department protocol after such an event where an officer loses his life. Part of the debriefing includes consultations with psychologists and a chaplain.
The entire detail will also be off through the weekend in lieu of the tragedy.
Metro police told News 2 the woman they were attempting to rescue was ultimately able to swim away from the sinking car. She was later found on the riverbank.
Glisson was transported to Skyline Medical Center and Metro police said in a release that she showed clear signs of intoxication. She is undergoing an evaluation at the hospital and remains under criminal investigation.
News 2 spoke with the 40-year-old woman’s boyfriend, Kevin Hurt, who said he is devastated by the turn of events.
According to him, Glisson has struggled with mental illness and had been hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. He told News 2 she had been discharged from a local hospital Wednesday evening.
Hurt also said Glisson left their home and said she was going to her mom’s house before she went to the boat ramp.
Hurt told News 2 he called police, concerned for Glisson’s safety and he was on the phone with her when officers arrived at the boat ramp.
“So I heard the cop tell her, ‘You okay mam? There is some people concerned about you,’ and then the phone hung up. It’s tragic. It’s real tragic, but I believe it could have been avoided if having insurance wasn’t such a big deal, especially when it comes to mental health when someone threatens themselves like that,” Hurt explained.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.