Girl paralyzed in accident that killed her mother finally heading to family

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – It was a triumph over tragedy Wednesday night. A homecoming months in the making for a St. Louis County girl who nearly died with her mother in a car accident.

The accident on Riverview along the north St. Louis riverfront October 26, killed 31-year-old Whitney Thomas, a mother of six. Her daughter, 11-year-old Zakaiya Manley, was left paralyzed from the waist down. The driver of the other vehicle was also killed.

Manley’s been hospitalized since the crash. She couldn’t wait to get home to her little sisters, Zyihire, 10, and Zoria, 8; the three Z’s together again.

“They’re going to be proud because I’m going home,” Zakaiya said. “Then I’m just going to be hanging out with them the rest of the day and that’s it!”

“It will be kind of scary because she’s been here all this time. She’s probably held onto a lot of emotions not being at home,” said Zakaiya’s aunt and legal guardian, Dorothy Phillips.

Phillips is taking in the three Zs. She already has 4 children of her own, ages 2 to 17.

“I have a whole full plate ahead of me but I believe in God. All the support I’ve been getting lately from total strangers has been awesome,” Phillips said.

That includes a ramp donated by the Gateway Housing Service Project.

The family has started the “Somewhere to Call Home” GoFundMe page hoping for help with things like an accessible vehicle, bed, tables, counter-tops, and more.

All are needed for an amazing child who said goodbye Wednesday to the hospital which had been her home for months and the staff members who made her dream of going home come true.

“I’m so proud of her.  She’s so resilient.  She gives me a lot of motivation,” Phillips said as Zakaiya sat smiling.

In the face of the worst of tragedies, that smile has prevailed.

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