National Guard doctor killed in 1 of 4 crashes during cross-state bicycle race

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A tragic crash took the life of a doctor who was also a father, a military veteran and an active member of the Air National Guard.

Capt. Troy Manz, 46, served as an air transport physician based in Illinois.

He was killed early Sunday morning in a bicycle crash while competing in a race across Florida. Two women were also seriously injured.

The organizers of the Sea to Sea 72 hour competition, Adventure Races Georgia, canceled the race shortly after the deadly crash.

It happened around 2:30 a.m. on U.S. 1 in south St. Johns County.

News4Jax learned Monday there were multiple crashes related to the race.

Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan, with the Florida Highway Patrol, confirmed Monday afternoon that there were nine bicyclists involved in four separate crashes in St. Johns and Flagler Counties.

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Another crash, involving two competitors, was a hit-and-run where troopers are still looking for the driver.

“He was a friend to all of us,” said Col. Troy Compardo, Manz’s commander in the 126th Medical Group of the Illinois Air Guard. “And that makes it even particularly more difficult. We lost an airman, we lost a friend, we lost a mentor, we lost a future leader.”

Manz was participating in the cross-state race going from Homosassa Springs in the Gulf to St. Augustine as part of the 72 hour expedition. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.)

Manz began his military service as a Marine, then joined the Air Force and finally the Illinois Air Guard. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan as inflight medical support and got his medical degree at age 40. He left behind two children.

Manz was on a cross-state adventure going from Homosassa Springs on the Gulf Coast to St. Augustine as part of the 72-hour expedition. His fiancé Trish Wilkinson and friend Barbara Gilmore were also part of the team.

All three were struck on U.S. 1 near Interstate 95 in St. Johns County early Sunday morning. The two women were seriously hurt, taken to UF Health with serious injuries, Bryan said. Manz was killed. The road, now with a memorial for him, is nearly pitch black at night.

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State troopers are still investigating but noted in their report a 27-year-old St. Augustine driver veered out of his lane hitting the three. Drug and alcohol test results were not back yet.

AR Georgia released a statement on Facebook: “We have been asked by the authorities not to discuss any details of the accident due to the ongoing investigation. The AR Georgia family is heartbroken at this tragic event and our thoughts are with these families at this difficult time. No issue has greater priority for us than the safety of our participants.”

A manager confirmed to News4Jax the cyclists were required to have bike lights but there was not a car escorting them as the riders were spaced out significantly. Another competitor said he believed safety measures were in place.

“With all of our safety reflectors and lights, I mean, you can see us, I mean, you can see us a mile away. We do everything we can,” said competitor Thomas Quattlebaum. “And unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent everything from happening. It’s just tragic.”

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Alex Fitzjohn, who manages David’s World Cycle in Jacksonville Beach, said it’s a sad reminder that bicyclists and drivers need to be extra careful at all times.

He recommends lights day and night, helmets and a safe place to ride.

“One of the mottos that we like to say is, ‘Be the distraction,’” Fitzjohn said. “Have those lights on. I have bright-colored clothing and make sure that you are the distracting part so they see you.”

There’s a donation account for funeral and medical expenses related to the crash.

State troopers said there were minor injuries in the other crashes.

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In the hit-and-run, Bryan said investigators have good evidence and are hoping to catch the driver soon. The other two crashes are being worked by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.