National Guard doctor originally from Eskridge killed in bicycle-car crash in Florida

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – A National Guard doctor with close ties to Northeast Kansas has been killed in a crash in Florida.

Capt. Troy Manz, 46, served as an air transport physician with the Illinois National Guard. He lived and worked in Indiana. CBS affiliate WJAX -TV reports that Dr. Manz, his fiance, and a friend were hit by a car around 2:30 Sunday morning. According to WJAX, his fiance Trish Wilkinson and friend Barbara Gilmore were injured. Troopers say the 27-year-old driver veered out of his lane, hitting the three.

The trio was a team participating in a 72-hour bicycle race across Florida known as the 2021 Sea to Sea Expedition Race. The accident happened south of St. Augustine in St. Johns County.

Dr. Manz was a graduate of Mission Valley High School, Washburn University, and KU Med according to his Linked-In profile. His Facebook profile shows that he graduated from medical school in May 2020. He spent nearly eight years working as a respiratory therapist for the VA in Topeka.

Friend, colleague, and his former supervisor at the Colmery O’Neill Medical Center, Shelly Pittman first met Troy Manz in 2009. They were co-workers, working side-by-side. She said Menz was a mentor to her. In 2012 she became supervisor of the department they both worked in. Pittman called him a dedicated employee who was always willing to fill any gaps in the schedule to make sure patients were cared for. She said he loved to stay busy.

Pittman says she was proud of her friend’s drive to attend medical school. In 2016 he left to attend med school; still, they kept in touch, texting every 6 weeks or so. Pittman says he lived a life of service. A veteran himself, he was committed to caring for other veterans. It’s his sense of humor she says she will miss most about her friend.

“He’d always make everyone laugh,” Shelly Pittman recalled. “He was everyone’s friend. And, you know, I remember times when we were in the emergency room together taking care of people, and we’re both down there, and he always made veterans laugh. And, that was my favorite part about him because he took that extra step.” She said sometimes it was an inside joke that only a fellow veteran might “get”, which made it all the more special.

Pittman says she would tease her friend that she was going to recruit him back to Northeast Kansas someday. Dr. Manz was currently working as an internal medicine resident at the Internal Medicine Resident Faculty Practice with St. Vincent Health in Vincennes, Indiana. His residency was through the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Southwest Indiana Internal Medicine Residency Program.

Colonel Troy Compardo of the Illinois National Guard wrote in a Facebook post announcing Dr. Manz’s passing that he “has been a valuable member of the 126th Medical Group since commissioning with us in 2016. Prior to joining the 126 MDG, he served honorably with the 932nd where he was a member of the Critical Care Air Transport Team, achieving the rank of Senior Master Sergeant.”

Sea to Sea race organizers posted an announcement to their website along with their condolences: “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.” According to organizer AR Premier Events, another rider attempted to save Manz and also assisted the other two injured team members. They referenced the “rapid arrival of emergency services.” The web posting notes that the riders’ families were notified and have traveled to Florida.

Dr. Manz served 8 years in the U.S. Marine Corps before training to become a Critical Care Air Transport Team Respiratory Therapist with the United States Air Force. He had planned a career in critical care medicine according to his hospital bio. Dr. Manz leaves behind two children according to WJXT.

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