Little Joe had big dreams. And when he set out to do something, he did it.
It was that determination that kept Joseph Jude “Joe” Dumphy alive for a month after being injured in a wreck that killed his grandfather.
Because of his age and strength, Joe’s family and his doctors held out hope that he could recover from his injuries. But after spending a month in ICU at Grady Memorial Hospital, the Forsyth County youth died Sunday. He was 15.
“We were holding out hope,” Joe’s father, Charley Dumphy, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “It was a roller coaster, but it helped us prepare for it.”
Joe hoped to be a pro golfer one day and already knew where he wanted to play in college. He was small in stature when he golfed alongside men older than his father, earning him the “Little Joe” nickname.
But after sprouting 6 inches in a matter of months, the teenager wearing size 12 shoes wasn’t going to be little much longer. Every spring and fall, Joe created his bucket list of things he wanted to accomplish, his father said. He completed every list.
Joe was spending the weekend with his grandparents and had just played golf on June 27 when his family was involved in a two-vehicle crash in Dawson County. Investigators believe 78-year-old John Joseph Dumphy failed to yield as he got on Ga. 400 and his vehicle was struck by a second one that couldn’t stop in time. Dumphy died at the scene of the wreck, which injured three others, including his grandson.
Joe was flown to Grady, where doctors determined he didn’t have any broken bones and no external injuries except for a cut on his ear, his father said. But internally, the swelling around his brain required an emergency craniotomy to remove pressure.
When a doctor stitched up his ear, Joe moved, a sign he felt the pain, offering a glimmer of hope, even to a skeptical doctor, Charley Dumphy said.
“I realized I had a fighter on my hand at that point,” the doctor later told the family.
And Joe continued to fight for weeks, with his mother, Deborah, never leaving the hospital.
“The natural reaction to his injury was to swell,” Joe’s father said. “And his body wouldn’t stop fighting.”
Joe underwent a second craniotomy, but when there was no hope of a recovery, the family decided to donate the teen’s organs. That required Joe’s body to be medication-free for seven days.
“He was a real giving kid, and he would have wanted it,” Charley Dumphy said. “It would’ve been a lot easier to say the fight’s over.”
Instead, a 13-year-old in North Carolina received Joe’s heart. Others received his kidneys, pancreas and liver, his father said. Because of Joe’s age, his organs could be used in both teenagers and adults, his father said.
A rising sophomore at North Forsyth County High School, Joe was a member of the varsity golf team and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was also a member of Chestatee Golf Club and played on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour, his family said.
Before the crash, Joe contacted the men’s golf coach at Texas Christian University to let him know he hoped to play for the Horned Frogs. Due to recruiting rules, Coach Bill Montigel didn’t respond to Joe directly. But a package arrived for Joe containing a TCU golf shirt. He’ll be buried in the shirt, his father said.
The family will receive friends Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Browns Bridge Church in Cumming. Funeral services will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming. Interment will follow in Sawnee View Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to “The Joe Dumphy Memorial Golf Scholarship,” c/o Moore Wealth Management, 210 Washington Street NW, Suite 106, Gainesville, GA 30501.