The Oak Creek Police Department and family members announced the tragic passing and heroic sacrifice of Milwaukee Police Officer James Nowak on November 29 after he was involved in a severe car accident near Oak Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Oak Creek several days prior.
According to sources, Nowak was off-duty when his vehicle collided with a semi-truck on November 26.
Facing the heart-wrenching reality of his grave injuries, Nowak’s family decided to honor his legacy through one last act of service.
They shared with TMJ4 News that Nowak’s organs would be donated to save the lives of others as a testament to his generous and loving nature. The final surgery took place on November 29.
“Jimmy would have wanted to help other people because he was a giving guy and very loving, so we decided to donate his organs to save other lives,” expressed his family.
Despite the devastating circumstances, Julia Nowak, Jimmy’s wife, recorded a poignant message to her husband, expressing her love and the pain felt by many.
“My heart is in a million little pieces. But you were always the life of the party and always made everybody else happy. I want to keep your happiness going because it’s keeping me going,” Nowak’s wife said in the recording.
Friends and family are remembering Nowak as a “beautiful, wonderful, happy soul” and a hero both in and out of uniform.
Dean Bratel, a close friend and workout partner of Nowak, recalled their time together.
“All around good guy. Good police officer, good friend, a good family member, a good husband.”
Nowak’s commitment to service extended beyond his 12-year career in the police force.
Even in his final moments, he continued to impact lives positively through organ donation, potentially saving up to eight lives, according to organ donor company Versiti.
Colleen McCarthy, VP of Organ and Tissue donation at Versiti, noted the lasting legacy of organ donation and its ability to provide comfort and peace to grieving families.
To honor Nowak’s sacrifice, an honor walk took place on the night of November 29 as a symbolic gesture of gratitude toward organ donors.
Hospital staff lined the hallways as Nowak was transported to the operating room, offering love and support to his family.
The community has since rallied around the Nowak family, creating a makeshift memorial at the crash site with flowers and tokens of love. Friends and well-wishers continue to visit, expressing their condolences and support.
To add to the tragedy, police noted that Nowak had recently lost his partner, Milwaukee Police Officer Peter Jerving, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in February. The event had shaken Nowak, colleagues said.
The Nowak family has set up a GoFundMe to assist with medical and funeral expenses.
Funeral arrangements have been announced, with visitation scheduled at Southbrook Church on St. Martin’s Road in Franklin on December 13, starting at 9 a.m. The funeral will follow at 2 p.m., with private burial arrangements.
Instead of flowers, the family has requested that memorials be made to the Fallen Hero’s Fund in honor of Officer James Nowak.