"He'll never be replaced and forever etched in our hearts."
Friends and family are reeling from the untimely death of 46-year-old marine and doctor Troy Manz who lost his life in a tragic cycling accident early Sunday morning.
"I can hear him now saying 'Ah, it'll be alright, it's going to be OK," like I can just hear him saying those encouraging things to us already," said Major Angelique Carroll, Manz's friend and fellow service member.
Dr. Manz, along with his fiancé, Trish Wilkinson, and their friend Barbara Gilmore were participating in the Sea to Sea Expedition Race, a 72-hour trek from Florida's west to east coast that ended in St. Augustine.
According to Florida Highway Patrol, the trio was traveling in the bike lane on US-1 near I-95 at around 2:30 a.m when a driver struck all three, killing Manz and seriously injuring the other two.
AR Georgia, the organizers of the race, said in a statement Monday that despite immediate efforts from one of his teammates and first responders, Manz's injuries were too serious to survive.
Wilkinson and Gilmore were hospitalized with serious injuries. Their current condition remains unknown at this time.
Manz served eight years in the United States Marine Corps before joining the Air Force.
"He just took off and he was so sharp and he knew exactly what to do with his patients," said Col. Dave Nowak, who served alongside Manz.
Nowak and Carroll said during their time together in the Air Force, they got to watch Manz's medical passions grow. It was also a time when the comrades became family.
"Troy became like a brother to me as he did many people because that's just the kind of personality that he has," Carroll said.
And despite reaching the second highest enlisted rank, Nowak said Manz had other aspirations.
"He wanted to become a physician and he went and did it," Nowak said. "He applied and did all the hard work and he started back at the bottom as a second lieutenant."
So, in 2016 Manz commissioned with the 126th Medical Group Air National Guard at the Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. He worked his way back up to a captain rank and was a physician there prior to his death.
"He went to medical school in his forties and that's unheard of and it was frankly a struggle for him," said Col. Troy Compardo, Manz's group commander. "But he set goals and had a vision of where his future was going to lead him and set achievable small goals and he was accomplishing everything he set his mind out to do."
And that's how everyone will remember Capt. Dr. Troy Manz.
"He is an eternal optimist, he always sees things on the brightest side," Carroll said.
He was an adventurous soul who left this world just as he lived.
"That's what Troy loved to do," Nowak said. "He loved getting out and just seeing what the world had to offer."
Manz was also a first-year resident in the Southwest Indiana Internal Medicine Residency Program through Indiana University School of Medicine, Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes and Ascension St. Vincent Evansville.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the accidental death of Dr. Troy Manz," IU School of Medicine Evansville said in a statement Monday. "We extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
A GoFundMe was created for Manz, Wilkinson, and Gilmore by Maj. Carroll. All funds raised will go to Wilkinson, Manz's fiancé.