‘He Took My Baby from Me,’ Victim’s Mother Says – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

It’s been nearly two weeks since Jennifer Strong lost her only son, Manaliki Eugine Wilson, when he was struck and while crossing a side street in Dallas.

“This broke me. I don’t understand,” said Strong as she reflects on the past two weeks.

Strong said her son was out with friends on March 17 as they crossed the street across from the Tin Room.

“He never made it in. Basically, as soon as he got out of the car, he got hit at 80 mph,” Strong said.

Dallas Police said Wilson, who was 27, was crossing the road when a pickup truck heading westbound struck him.

The force of the crash was so powerful, Wilson was thrown to the crosswalk near Maple Avenue and Denton Drive Cut Off.

A memorial for Manaliki Eugine Wilson near where he was fatally struck by a driver in Dallas.

“They told me my son had got hit by a car, but he was breathing,” said Strong, who said learned of her son’s accident from his best friends.

Strong, who lives in Kansas City, flew out immediately, but when she got to the hospital in Dallas, her son had already passed.

“I’m thinking they’re about to tell me that my son is paralyzed, he might have lost an arm or a leg, they told me son was bleeding internally, he died during surgery,” recalled Strong.

The driver of the truck, 27-year-old Richard Rojas, was given a field sobriety test and a breath test. A police affidavit states the alcohol breath test came back as .22, which is nearly three times the legal limit. Rojas was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter.

“He took my baby from me and so many people who loved him. Oh, and that pain, it hurts so bad. ‘What were you thinking? Why would you get in the car and do this to somebody, do this to somebody’s family ?’ I want to know how he feels, I want to know if he sleeps at night, because I don’t sleep, my mind is racing,” cried Strong.

jennifer strong

Jennifer Strong

She has mixed emotions and wants justice, but even through the trauma she had this to say when asked what she would say to the driver.

“I would have to tell him that I forgive him, and if you have a problem please get help, please get help,” cried Strong who said she plans on traveling back and forth to attend court dates.

Tributes from friends online described Wilson as a free spirit, life of the party, and someone who brought many people together from all different walks of life.

“Unique, creative, caring, loving, strong, very strong,” said Strong as she described her son. “Intelligent, wanted to do so many things, wanted to travel the world, wanted to take care of his niece and nephew, wanted to take care of me.”

The mother of two said Wilson, who was also known as Remfu, moved to Dallas more than five years ago to pursue his career as a model, artist, photographer, and more.

“Being creative, expressing himself, he was able to be himself, didn’t care what anybody thought of him,” said Strong. “He always told people, ‘live your life to the fullest with no regrets, smile keep your head up.'”

Strong said her son loved to dance and cherishes the video of him from earlier that night which showed him doing just that.

A memorial for Wilson now sits at the crosswalk with balloons, flowers, and pictures. Strong said she now plans to advocate against drunken driving in honor of her son, so no one else has to experience what she’s going through.

According to court records, Rojas is free after posting $150,000 bond.


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