A Nashville Fire Department diver on Thursday morning recovered the body of a Metro police officer who jumped in the Cumberland River to save a suicidal woman.
The officer, 44-year-old Eric Mumaw, was an 18-year veteran of the police department who had twice received awards for his heroism, according to the Metro police department.
"I know he died doing what he loves. He loved his midnight shift and he gave his life," Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said fighting through tears as he spoke near the banks of the river on Neely's Bend in Madison. "I know his whole detail is over there. They're grieving. They're going to miss him."
A family member of 40-year-old Juli Glisson called the Metro Emergency Communications Center at 4:19 a.m. to report that she was suicidal and at the Peeler Park boat ramp, Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said. Mumaw and Officer Nick Diamond tried to talk to Glisson who was in the driver’s seat of a car at the edge of the boat ramp.
The officers thought they had convinced her to step out of the car and come with them. The driver’s door opened and the car went out of park and into the water. The officers then raced into water trying to save Glisson, but didn’t realize the edge of the submerged boat ramp abruptly ended. The officers lost their balance and fell into the water, Aaron said. Glisson remained in the driver’s seat.
The motion of the vehicle going into the water swept the officers further out. Diamond tried to grab hold of Mumaw, but he slipped from his grasp, Aaron said. Diamond was able to swim to the river bank. So was Glisson.
Meanwhile, Officer Trent Craig saw the scene unfold from the shore. He ran through the woods and spotted Mumaw’s head just above the water, and jumped in the cold river. The water reached his shoulders as he tried to save his colleague. He was unable to reach him.
When the Nashville Fire Department arrived on scene, they spotted Glisson on the river bank. Glisson was taken to TriStar Skyline Medical Center.
About a half dozen boats and several helicopters scoured the Cumberland River for the missing officer. Emergency crews responded to the scene from several agencies, including the fire department, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Hendersonville police also responded to assist.
A Nashville fire department diver found Mumaw’s body about 70 yards from the boat dock just after 8 a.m.
Glisson is under investigation and has a criminal background, Aaron said.
“We will have officers dealing with her this morning and it would be premature for me to say specifically what will happen to her later today," Aaron said.
Since 2002, Glisson has been arrested for driving on a suspended license, two charges of driving under the influence, two implied consent charges, drug possession, two theft under $500 charges, vandalism over $500, public intoxication, two assault charges and for leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury, according to criminal court clerk records.
Glisson served several months in jail following guilty verdicts for at least three of those arrests.
The day's events became a tragic reminder of the dangers facing police officers as they work to protect residents.
“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," Mayor Megan Barry said. "Officer Mumaw dedicated his life to the safety and protection of us all, and today he gave his life to that calling."
In 2007, he was on duty and noticed an SUV speed away from a gas station. A man came outside shouting that his car had been stolen and his baby was inside. Mumaw pursued the stolen vehicle until it ran off the road. The suspect was arrested a short time later and the baby, unharmed, was reunited with his father, according to Tennessean coverage.
Councilman Bill Pridemore, who represents the Peeler Park area and served in the Metro police department for 33 years, said he was awoken by a dozen emergency vehicles as they were heading toward the distressed woman shortly after 4 a.m.
When he found out a police officer was missing, he headed to the scene.
“Naturally, I’m devastated,” said Pridemore, who did not know Mumaw personally. “As expected, everyone’s very somber and upset. He was fine cop, a very well-liked officer. He volunteered for and enjoyed the midnight shift, which surprised me — not many people do.
“It’s just a sad thing, not only for us, but for the other officers. That’s something they’re going to have to deal with the rest of their careers and lives.”
Councilwoman Nancy VanReece, who represents a different part of Madison, called Mumaw’s actions “sheer bravery.”
“It’s a really sad day,” she said. “We’re all mourning. We hope that the other officer recovers quickly and the woman gets as much help as she needs to find peace as well.”
After leaving the scene, Anderson, the police chief, briefly stopped by the Madison precinct where Mumaw was stationed. Ruth's Flowers delivered a bouquet in honor of Mumow.
The last Metro police officer to die in the line of duty was 25-year-old Officer Michael Petrina, who was working a crash on Interstate 65 near Brentwood on May 10, 2014 when he was struck and killed by a motor home. About a decade earlier, Officer Christy Dedman was killed on July 19, 2004 after a tractor-trailer hit her on Interstate 40. Officer Candace Ripp died December 8, 2001.
Joey Garrison, Nate Rau, Dave Boucher, Tabitha Waggoner and Andy Humbles contributed to this report.
Reach Natalie Neysa Alund at 615-259-8072 and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund. Reach Holly Meyer at email@example.com or 615-259-8241 and follow her on Twitter @HollyAMeyer.