Tennessee police officer dies during water rescue on Cumberland River

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 reconditions over the years, including Metro’s Lifesaving Award in 2011.

PHOTOS: Officer’s body found after water rescue

“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.”

Officer Mumaw’s body was discovered less than 100 yards from the boat ramp at around 8:15 a.m.

Eric Mumaw (Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department)
Eric Mumaw (Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department)

The call for the rescue at Peeler Park Greenway Trailhead on Neelys Bend Road went out at around 4 a.m.

Crews with the Nashville Fire Department and Metro police responded to the banks of the Cumberland River to save a woman who was threatening to drive into the water.

Mumaw and Officer Nick Diamond spent several minutes negotiating with Juli Glisson, 40, before Metro police said the vehicle slipped into gear and began drifting into the river. The two officers went into the river to try to save the woman. With the cold temperatures and the force from the car entering the water, both Mumaw and Diamond were sucked into the water.

A third officer at the scene saw Mumaw struggling and dove into the water in an effort to help him.

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.

“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.”

Officer Diamond was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for treatment. Fellow officers told WKRN late Thursday morning that he was “doing good” and Diamond was later released.

He will be undergoing what’s called “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.

Officer Nick Diamond (Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department)
Officer Nick Diamond (Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department)

Metro police told News 2 Glisson was able to get out of the car and was later found on the banks of the Cumberland River. She was transported to a local hospital and is being detained as part of the investigation.

News 2 spoke with the 40-year-old woman’s boyfriend, who said he is devastated by the turn of events.

According to him, Glisson has struggled with mental illness and that she had been hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. He told News 2 she had been discharged from a local hospital on Wednesday evening.

He said Glisson left their home and said she was going to her mom’s house before she went to the boat ramp.

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 Officer Mumaw’s life and service.

Mumaw is from Ohio and graduated from Westerville South High School in 1991.

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