A host of top names in Irish show jumping have given their support to a funding appeal in aid of an Irish groom involved in a Florida car crash which claimed the lives of two young American riders.
Elaine O’Halloran from Sligo, a passenger in the car, was the only survivor of the accident in which Dana McWilliams (19) and Christian Kennedy (21) were killed on Saturday, November 25th. The Strandhill native, who is based in Florida working as a groom for Irish rider David Blake, underwent spinal surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital’s Trauma Center in West Palm Beach.
While the surgery is reported to have been successful, she is at present paralysed from the waist down, though it is hoped this situation may not be permanent. A GoFundMe account was set up by Blake to aid the young Irish woman, who will need to remain in Florida to continue her treatment.
It is hoped the fund will realise $500,000, and just two days after it was set up, over $120,000 had been donated. The fund has received considerable support from prominent names connected with Irish show jumping, with management as well as riders rallying around the injured groom. There has also been a considerable input from businesses and individuals, and from the US equestrian sector.
The recent tragedy is the second to shock the Palm Beach equestrian community in less than two years. In January 2016, two show jumpers were killed when a car in which they were traveling crashed in the Palm Beach area. Andres Rodriguez (31) from Venezuela and American Sarah Walker (30) lost their lives in the accident. Rodriguez had won a silver medal at the 2015 Pan-American Games. He had endeared himself to Irish fans at the 2015 Dublin Horse Show when sporting an Irish rugby jersey while competing in the Puissance.