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Eva family overcomes disaster to celebrate Christmas joy

One Eva man is getting an extra special Christmas this year after missing last year’s Christmas completely.

Tommy Dupree was in a coma through last Christmas and New Year’s following a wreck on Dec. 15.

Dupree worked as a supervisor on a bus transporting prisoners from one part of the country to another. During his last trip before his Christmas break, his bus was in a traumatic accident that totaled the bus and left Dupree in critical condition.

The 44-year-old spent weeks in the trauma center of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mo. He suffered eight back fractures, a paralyzed lung, damage to his spleen and other problems.

His mother, Nadine Woodard, credits his 4-year-old daughter Madison Dupree with waking him up from his coma even though she was not able to be at the hospital when he awoke.

“They told us to talk to him as much as we could,” Woodard said. “We made a Build-a-Bear lion that had a recording of her singing when you pushed its hand. We were playing that for him when he woke up in January. She loves to sing and would sing to him often when he was home from trips. They would watch ‘The Lion King’ every time he got back, so we felt like this stuffed animal would be special to him.”

Woodard said they are trying to make the most of this special Christmas.

“Last year was so tough for us,” Woodard said. “None of us would open presents or celebrate Christmas until he was better. We want this Christmas to be very special to him. We are so glad to have him back with us.”

Family from several states is coming to celebrate Christmas with Dupree at the Eva Methodist Church with a large Christmas dinner.

He has been a part of the Eva Frontier and Christmas parades for many years, and he was able to ride on the back of Woodard’s three-wheeled motorcycle this year. Dupree dressed as Santa Claus while Woodard dressed as an elf.

Madison will be an angel in the Eva Christmas play with her own solo. She is currently in preschool at Eva School.

He is still recovering and requires a wheelchair, but Dupree plans to make the most of this extraordinary Christmas.