Summary: On May 25, Emanuel “Manny” Dukes Jr., was involved in a car wreck where he was critically injured and life-flighted to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. About six months later he celebrates his 27th birthday and a second chance at life.
Being in a hospital bed for months makes you realize there is nothing like your bed and eating your own food, said a Clarksville Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) bus driver.
“On Oct. 7, 2014, they [doctors] came in the room and said, ‘Manny, you can go home.’ I almost turned that bed upside down,” joked Emanuel “Manny” Dukes Jr.
On May 25, Dukes Jr., then-26, was involved in a crash on I-24 in Clarksville, Tenn. According to “The Leaf Chronicle”, he lost control of his vehicle, a 2002 Chevy Tahoe, and sustained multiple injuries such as a broken pelvis, lacerations and a traumatic head injury. He required nine surgeries on his skull, went through rehabilitation to walk and talk again, and suffered from a staph bacterial infection from the hospital.
“When I could’ve been dead and gone again, the Devil said, ‘Yes’ but God said, ‘No, I am not done with you yet,’” said Dukes Jr.
Six months later was his birthday. To celebrate, Good and Mercy Outreach Church (GMOC) hosted the Emanuel “Manny” Dukes Jr. Testimony and Birthday Celebration on November 22. During the event, family, friends and guest performers had testimonials about when they first heard of his accident and how special Dukes Jr. was to them. Guest performers included: the GMOC Praise Team, Dionne Jermeia, Not Easily Broken, Kristen D. Stowe and Aaron Kirkland and One Accord.
Aaron Kirkland, one of Dukes Jr.’s friends, received a text message late at night after his high school graduation party but was unable to go to the hospital that night.
“First thing in the morning, I woke up at five and took off. As I was going down there I was already defeated in my head [thinking], ‘Is this what the world is [like] after you graduate,’ ‘Does this happen like that,’” according to Kirkland.
According to Dukes Jr.’s mother, Terri Tanner, she could not image what losing a child was like until that night. According to an interview by “The Jackson Sun,” she originally thought Dukes Jr. was in his bed when his best friend came to the door to inform her of the accident. Dukes Jr.’s mother and sister, Felicia Best, both thanked everyone for the continuous widespread of support and love.
“I want you to see how the people came to see him and pray for him. People that I don’t event know, people that he don’t know and still don’t know prayed for him all over this country because Facebook and text messages. There are people that I’m blessed to have in my life who will never meet him and may never meet him who prayed for him, then they shared the post on their pages” according to Best.
Friends of Dukes Jr. created a GoFundMe webpage to raise money to help pay for his hospital bills. So far they have raised $3,010 but the goal is $100,000. During the event, an estimated $700 was donated from various attendees during offering.
Dukes Jr. has not let this temporary obstacle get in the way of his vision, being a minister and sharing his testimony. He has an undying faith and loved one’s who helped him get through the tough times.
“If God wasn’t leading me, there’s no telling what could’ve happened to me that night. But because I had the blood of Jesus in my life and he was leading me, I could still be here today. He is a God who still directs, a God who still cares and a God who still loves,” said Dukes Jr.
His goal is not to only continue his ministry but to get back to his beloved bus number 0784. Many of his children he drives attended the event to support and show appreciation for their favorite bus driver.
“I made it home and been home ever since,” said Dukes Jr.