An Irish groom who was the sole survivor of a car crash that killed two young riders in the US is recovering in hospital after spinal surgery.
Twenty-four-year-old Elaine O’Halloran is originally from County Sligo, but has been living in Wellington, Florida, where she works as a groom taking care of top level showjumpers.
She was a passenger in the vehicle in which young riders Dana McWilliams, 19, and Christian Kennedy, 21, died on 25 November.
Dana, who was from Conneticut, worked for showjumper Maarten Huygens while Christian, who was from Iowa, was working for Israeli dressage rider Oded Shimoni.
Elaine was taken to St Mary’s Medical Trauma Centre in West Palm Beach after the accident where she has since undergone reconstructive spinal surgery.
Although the operation was a success, she currently has paralysis from the waist down and it is not yet known whether the condition will be permanent.
Elaine did not have medical insurance to cover the accident and now faces a period of intensive rehabilitation. Her diagnosis means she will have to remain in Florida to receive treatment.
A Gofundme page has been set up to help cover Elaine’s hospital stay and rehabilitation. At the time of publication, $71,335 of a $500,000 target had been raised in 15 hours.
Tributes have poured in for the pair, who lost their lives in the accident
The British Grooms Association has raised concerns over the increasing number of uninsured grooms who are running into financial difficulties
In a Facebook post, showjumper David Blake said: “Elaine has been part of my team for a number of years now. Not only has she been a great friend, but one of the most loyal hardworking people I have had the pleasure of working with. She truly is one in a million.
“Last week’s accident was devastating for all involved. It is now important Elaine gets the support needed to make a strong recovery. I know with everyone’s help and her positive attitude towards life , she will make the recovery she so truly deserves.”
Irish showjumper Cian O’Connor was one of a number of riders to share the appeal.
“An awful tragedy that I’m sure the greater equestrian community will only be too glad to support. Our thoughts are with Elaine and her family,” he said.
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