Waikato equine community mourn loss of much-loved vet killed in US car crash

Dave Hanlon was a respected equine vet.
Dave Hanlon was a respected equine vet. Photo credit: Facebook/Matamata Veterinary Services.

Shock and sadness has rocked the Waikato equine industry after a well-known vet was killed in a car crash in the United States.

Dave Hanlon, his wife Fiona and their children were involved in a car accident while holidaying in Wyoming.

The couple had recently taken up positions at Colorado State University after many years working at the Matamata Veterinary Services in Waikato.

News of the death of 50-year-old Hanlon, who was a respected equine vet, was shared in an emotional Facebook post.

"The clinic received the devastating news yesterday that Dave Hanlon, his wife Fiona and their children were involved in a car accident," it said.

"This is horrendous sad news. Dave was very well-liked and respected by Staff, Clients, Colleagues and the Community. 

"Dave will be sadly missed by us all. Our thoughts & prayers are with Fiona, their boys & their wider families." 

In a statement, the Wyoming Highway Patrol said the fatal crash happened on US Highway 287 south of Laramie, Wyoming, after a car had veered into the wrong lane, and hit the Hanlon's vehicle head-on.

"Around 10:23 a.m., Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched to the area for a motor vehicle collision."

It said the driver of a car had swerved into the wrong lane to avoid another vehicle that had stopped.

"The driver of the Honda failed to notice the stopped vehicle until it was too late and entered the northbound of US Highway 287, colliding head-on with a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee."

Hanlon's wife, Fiona Hollinshead, who is also a specialist vet, was airlifted and hospitalized with head trauma.

She had since regained consciousness and is in a stable condition.

The couple's three sons were unharmed after the crash, and family has flown to be with them.

The news had been met with shock in by friends and colleagues of the couple, with hundreds of tributes posted.

"Absolutely heartbreaking news. It is so incredibly sad losing such a wonderful man, a friend, a fantastic boss and someone who inspired so many," said one comment.

"This man is and was a legend and will be missed in our industry, " another posted.

"How tragic the for family and for all Dave has done for the veterinary industry and animals he has helped. My heart goes out to his family."

Speed, cell phone use, and inattention by the driver of the Honda were being investigated as possible contributing factors to the crash, said the Wyoming Highway Patrol.