Donations pour in for crash victim
By Brent Curtis
staff writer | April 17,2014
The life-threatening crash has been a shock, but the donations and support that have poured in for Nathan Whitehorne during the last week have been an inspiration, according to his friends and co-workers.
The 41-year-old West Rutland man was critically injured when his truck crashed head on into a school bus stopped at a set of railroad tracks on Route 3 last Thursday in Rutland Town.
His friends and co-workers at the kennel he owns said Wednesday that Whitehorne had just dropped his daughter off at school and was on his way to work when the crash occurred. Vermont State Police said Wednesday they are still investigating the incident and have yet to determine a cause.
Whitehorne was taken by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center where doctors performed open-heart surgery to save his life.
A week after the crash, Whitehorne’s friends say he remains in the New Hampshire hospital and has had two more surgeries to repair broken bones in his hand and leg.
“He’s doing really well considering what he’s been through,” said Rebecca Carr, the shop manager and trainer at Whitehorne’s business, 4 Paws Academy, and his longtime friend. “He will be off the ventilator in a few days and that will be a big step forward, but he’s going to be in recovery for a long time.”
To help Whitehorne’s family pay medical bills and other expenses during that long process, Carr this week posted an appeal on the website Gofundme seeking $25,000 in donations.
Two days later, 195 supporters have contributed more than $14,000 toward that goal.
“It’s getting huge,” Carr said. “We’re so grateful to everyone.”
The Gofundme posting is only one way to help the stricken businessman and father.
On Saturday, May 10, the kennel’s employees will be hosting a dog wash at their day school on North Grove Street in Rutland Town and on June 1 supporters are planning a basket raffle.
Nicole Bishop, who is a client at the kennel, said she is one of a number of Whitehorne’s customers who have been inspired to help him.
“Initially, we got the word out just by Facebook and email but it’s spread like wildfire from there,” she said.
Lisa Wood, another of the kennel’s clients, was integral last week in finding Whitehorne’s dog, which was so panicked after surviving the crash that no one could approach it.
After Vermont State Police at the scene were unable to lay hands on the dog, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois named Minion, Wood went looking for the dog with her own Belgian, Stoley, about five hours after the crash.
“He was circling (the crash site) for hours. He kept trying to go back to the accident scene but Nate wasn’t there anymore,” she said. “He was so freaked out, he didn’t want to go to anyone.”
He didn’t want to go near humans, but when Stoley ran circles around him, Wood said, the big dog calmed down enough for her to get closer.
Carr was a former client herself. But she said in the three years since she met Whitehorne, he and his kennel inspired her to leave her career as a schoolteacher to teach canines instead.
“I believed enough in what he’s doing here to leave my career,” she said. “He has influenced more people than I think even he can comprehend.”
“He would do anything for any one of us,” Whitehorne’s apprentice, Jamie Hawley, added.
Those interested in making donations to support the Whitehorne family can visit gofundme.com. There is also a need for volunteers to help with a number of projects planned this spring. Those interested in assisting can contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those interested in donating baskets can send emails to either Bishop at email@example.com or to Danielle Poirier at firstname.lastname@example.org.