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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 3 years ago

Young Flagler deputy waits for word on his wife, who is in a coma after a car crash

Trever Manning's wife, Catherine, sustained trauma to her liver, pelvis and brain and won't be 'out of the woods' for another month.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

Through the third-floor windows near the intensive care unit, the sun is setting right in Trever Manning's eyes, keeping him awake. He turns away, trying to get comfortable in a padded chair in the waiting area, and he rests his eyes. It’s 5 p.m., and Manning is exhausted, but not from his long hours as a new Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy working at the jail. He has spent the last seven days at Halifax Health Medical Center, in Daytona Beach, waiting for news about his wife.

Catherine Manning, 23, was in a car crash on Jan. 23 that nearly took her life. She was turning north onto U.S. 1 from Old Kings Road, on her way to teach high school English in a poor community an hour away when, according to the Florida Highway Patrol’s report, she didn’t yield to traffic. Then she overcorrected and ended up rotating her car, resulting in a T-bone collision. She was flown to Halifax and is currently in a medical coma as the doctors treat trauma to her liver, pelvis and brain. For now, all Trever can do is pray and hope that she will survive and one day come home whole.

I went to see him Jan. 30 at the hospital, as he was waiting for a neurologist to come for another check-up on Catherine. I asked Trever if I could include information for their gofundme page in the Observer to help out with medical costs, and he agreed. For the sake of writing a story, I also asked him some basic questions, like, How has this terrible event impacted him?

As is typical with Trever, he responded by poking fun at himself. With a smile, he said, “All the cliché things: It just makes you appreciate life, just want her back in one piece.” But despite his unsentimental demeanor, it was clear that he has been shaken. He later told me, “I’m just trying to keep it together at this point.”

Sitting with Trever and me was Catherine’s mother, Marian Rocher, who lives in Orlando. Like Trever, she also has been at the hospital for the past week. Her watch was stuck on 9:41 because the battery ran out, and indeed, it felt to her as though time had stopped altogether.

Rocher said that when Catherine was a 2-year-old, she was always asking for bedtime stories — not from princess books but from the Bible. She remembered laughing about that with her husband, Julio, and thinking, “Something special has to come of this.”

Catherine has always been a good girl, Rocher said. She has never smoked, never drunk alcohol. And when Catherine and Trever got married in 2014 and later sealed in a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Everything she so wanted was coming true for her,” said Rocher, who is not a Mormon herself but is supportive of Catherine’s faith.

Trever said he had been lucky that he happened to have been scheduled for a short week at the jail when the crash happened, and he has only had to use a couple of days off to stay at the hospital so long. But it could take a month before there is any definitive word on Catherine’s future.

Fortunately, the Sheriff’s Office has indicated it would work with him. Sheriff Rick Staly came to the hospital recently to visit with Trever, and later, Staly told me, “We’re a family. … We’re going to make sure he has the time to spend with his wife. He needs to be there for her, and the agency needs to be there for him. While our staffing is low, and we’ll probably be paying overtime to backfill when he’s off, it’s the right thing to do to support this employee.”

Trever said he’s planning to work at the jail during the next month but still spend as much time as he can at the hospital.

In addition to prayers, the community can help by contributing at Staly also said deputies in the Sheriff’s Office can donate personal days to Trever if they would like.

It was clear at the hospital that Trever and Rocher were focused not on work or money but on more existential questions.

"I asked God when we first came here to please take me in her place. It’s what every mother thinks: ‘I've lived my life, and she's just starting hers.’ But it doesn't work that way."

MARIAN ROCHER, Catherine's mother

“Why her, when she's only been good and has only tried to live to do what's right in God's eyes?” Rocher said. “I asked God when we first came here to please take me in her place. It’s what every mother thinks: ‘I've lived my life, and she's just starting hers.’ But it doesn't work that way. … The biggest fear I have is knowing that we're not the only family asking for their child. Why should we be any better than anybody else? That's what scares me the most.”

Our conversation was interrupted when Trever turned and noticed a man with a clipboard walking down the hall.

“That’s the neurologist,” Trever said. Suddenly, he wasn’t looking tired anymore. He jumped out of his chair and said, as he and Rocher raced to catch up to him, “Sorry — gotta go.”

Trever later told me that the doctor ordered another test. Too soon to know anything definitive.

He thanked me for visiting and texted, “I hope God is listening.”

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