Coronavirus: Pandemic adds to family's pain after fatal farm accident

Gavin and Rosie Dowling with their children Harry, Digby and Olive.
Gavin and Rosie Dowling with their children Harry, Digby and Olive. Photo credit: GiveALittle

The widow of a young farmer killed in a farm accident is unable to be comforted in person by her friends due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Gavin Dowling died on his farm in East Coast Marlborough on Thursday.

A GiveALittle campaign has raised over $200,000 for Dowling's wife, Rosie and their three young children, Harry (4), Digby (2) and Olive (9 months).

Best friend Millie Millton said Olive suffered from a rare health condition, and it was vital that she was protected from the COVID-19 virus.

"For the last 9 months they have juggled life with wee Olive in and out of hospital with Ebstein's (a rare cardiac condition) as well as other complications," Millton said on the GiveALittle page.

"She has had major surgery with more to come and has had more nights in hospital than at home. Gav has been home with the boys whilst running the farms and travelling to see Rosie and Olive in Wairau, Nelson and Starship hospitals."

She said despite the challenges, the couple, who farmed at Clarence, 30 kilometres north of Kaikōura, had taken everything in their stride.

"Still smiling, still getting out into the community when possible and finishing rebuilding their earthquake damaged home remotely."

"Rosie has lost her husband, she is stuck between home and hospital caring for her children and everything seems difficult right now without her man."

The COVID-19 outbreak meant friends are unable to visit in person.

"Supporting Rosie remotely during this time is tough, we all want to be there for her, to hug and cry. 

"Technology is allowing us to communicate but it is vital that Olive is protected during this Covid-19 pandemic and everyone is respecting that."

The GiveALittle campaign was a way of helping relieve financial pressure.

"We want to help out financially, so she doesn't have to worry about the farm and finances for a few months and can just spend this time with her children, keeping memories alive and understanding this new way of living without her best mate, Gav."

Funds would be used to pay for essential items, funeral costs, the running of the farms, child care while Rosie continues to support Olive in hospital.

"A way to help Rosie to spend these next few months with her kids not worrying about money."

A police spokeswoman told Stuff said the death was being treated as "unexplained at this stage".

"Worksafe has been notified and the death has been referred to the Coroner," she said.