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What Happened to Danny Duke?


(Columbia, SC and Lenox, MA) – Danny Duke was a bright and active 20-year-old enrolled at the University of South Carolina. For the past six years, he's been in a coma with family constantly by his side. Watch Part 1 Of Danny Duke's Story “I know Danny can feel us. I know he knows my hand's there," Jessie Duke, Danny’s mother, said.For six years, hand-holding is the only interaction Jessie has had with her son. Conversations are always one-sided and blank stares replace once bright eyes. Jessie is convinced this is how her youngest son will live the rest of his life.I"m afraid he was damaged too much. Somebody really hit him hard,” she said.Danny was struck in the head December 15, 2000 as he tried to cross Pickens Street. It was just after 3 a.m. and he was leaving a friend’s dorm room at South Quad to return to his own inside Capstone. In that short walk, Danny’s life--and his family’s--forever changed."It's depressing. It's nothing anyone should do. No one...28-years-old belongs at a nursing home,” Danny’s mom said.While her son’s eyes may be open, Danny’s brain has shut down; and, for six years, he’s remained in a coma. Medical experts say Danny was hit in the face by a flat surface traveling at a high-rate of speed--possibly a side-view mirror.Still, that theory raises more questions than answers. Police say they found no broken glass, no skid marks and no car parts at the scene. It’s one reason Danny’s family is convinced it wasn’t a car that hit him--it was someone."If this was the result of a car accident--as was noted in the report--there would be other damages, other indications of a car/pedestrian accident,” father Frank Duke said. “This was a total assault. Someone hit him."It’s that lack of evidence that also makes it one of the most puzzling cases Columbia Police Corporal Derek Miller said he's ever tried to solve."I wish I could tell them exactly what happened and bring justice and closure to this case, but unfortunately everything I've been given to follow-up on has turned into nothing,” Miller said.The Dukes say the lack of leads, as well as the pace of the investigation, has been frustrating. Danny’s brother, Chris, says days passed before investigators visited the scene or Danny."Last I knew--and I"m not a police officer and I don't investigate things--but as days go by things get lost. You'll lose vital evidence. You'll lose anything that's part of the investigation,” Chris said.Authorities maintain they did everything possible. Copies of press releases prove the media was asked to assist on two different occasions. Corporal Miller says SLED also analyzed Danny’s clothes for evidence while he looked for his own."One thing I did is on another night just like that---within a couple weeks--I stood out on the roadway and flagged down people and asked them if they had any information...may have seen what had happened,” Miller said.Despite those efforts, one big question remains: What did happen to Danny Duke? It’s a question that fills the once empty space in his mother’s mind. She and the rest of the family have twelve hours a day--sitting by Danny’s bed--to think about it."I believe whoever did it knows somebody was hit that night. Whether it be a car or an individual who just happened to pick on our son....because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Jessie Duke said. If you have any information about what happened the night of December 15, 2000 (around 3 a.m.) you're urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-559-TIPS. A cash reward is available for information leading to an arrest.

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