MEMPHIS, Tenn.– New safety measures and other changes could be coming to a Germantown park after a man died while trying to save a child.

An effort is underway to rename Riverdale Park in Germantown after a football coach who gave his life while trying to save a child from drowning in a nearby canal. By Sunday, a petition to rename the park was just a few signatures away from its goal of 5,000.

► See the petition on

Friday, there was very little water in the drainage canal that runs the length of Riverdale Park on Neshoba Road. It’s a far cry from how we’re told the canal looked like Tuesday night after a heavy downpour raised the water level dangerously high.

It was reported that a child had fallen into the water. His father and 37-year-old Will Drennan, the boy’s football coach, jumped in to rescue the youngster.

The child and father emerged from the drainage canal on the north side of Neshoba Road but Drennan did not.

Drennan was located by first responders but he died at Methodist Germantown Hospital.

Matt Young believes the valiant effort his friend made by jumping into a rain-swollen drainage canal to help a father save his son from drowning was an instinctive act on his friend’s part.

“I think it’s an obvious decision that needs to be made. With the events that happened on Tuesday night and the sacrifice Will made,” he said.

Germantown Police told WREG the investigation into Tuesday night’s tragedy is ongoing.

Young supports the petition drive on to rename Riverdale Park to Drennan Park. He said. renaming the park would serve to remind Drennan’s family and friends of his heroic effort.

“He wanted to make sure that kid was going to be okay and ultimately the kid was okay and he made the ultimate sacrifice for that,” he said.

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People who use the park regularly say it’s not the first time water in the drainage canal has overflowed its banks and the most important thing is preventing another deadly tragedy by coming up with an effective way to fence off the canal and the culvert where Drennan lost his life.

We reached out to Germantown City Hall for comment on renaming the park and what if any plans they have for making the drainage canal less accessible especially for children.

They said in a statement:

“The City’s budget for the current fiscal year, approved on June 27, includes significant funding for park improvements at Riverdale Park. Preliminary design work for this park reinvestment project is currently in draft form.

Before the design work for this park reinvestment project is completed and officially considered for approval, a comprehensive review of park safety throughout the park, including alternative design options for stormwater conveyance, will be completed.

To further enhance the safety at Riverdale Park, I have directed design plan submittals to include the option of an enclosed, underground stormwater system for immediate consideration.”