Jesse Koz, a 29-year-old Brazilian national, and his golden retriever Shurastey died instantly on Monday after his 1978 Volkswagen Beetle entered into a head-on crash with a Ford Escape near Selma, Oregon.
The driver of the Ford Escape, identified as 62-year-old Eileen Huss, was taken to hospital with injuries, while a toddler in the back of the vehicle was uninjured.
Koz had travelled 52,000 miles and across 17 countries in his car with his pet since he first began the trip in 2017. The journey, that was set to end in Alaska, was slowed down in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic and cross-border restrictions that had prevented him from driving across the US-Mexico border.
He was forced to return to Brazil, but the influencer resumed his journey in January this year and crossed into the US in February.
“We left Mexico in September 2020 with the idea of staying only four months in Brazil with the hope that the Mexico-US border would open again,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“But the months went by, and no news that this would happen, month after month after month (of) expectation was decreasing and the dream of completing the drive with the Beetle was (slipping away).”
The Brazilian influencer regularly shared images of his expedition with his 431,000 Instagram followers.
An official Instagram page created for journalling their road trip collected 1.2 million followers. The page, called “Shurastey or Shuraigow?”, is a play on the name of his dog and the song “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash.
“A carousel of photos to hang on the wall of my country home for when I’m 80 years old to remember every moment by your side, my friend!” he said in an Instagram post in the Portuguese language, featuring a photo of him and his canine friend at the Lincoln Memorial earlier in April.
The traveller made his last post just four days before his death.
In the post, now liked over 277,000 times, Koz was seen standing in front of San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge with his beloved dog.
“Hercílio Luz Bridge is looking different,” he had captioned the photo, in a quip comparing the San Francisco bridge and the Hercílio Luz Bridge in Brazil’s Florianópolis city.
Koz’s social media pages have been flooded with tributes from followers.
“The last picture... The last post, the last trip! The best trip is happening now,” wrote one user. “Hope Jesus Christ welcomes you with open arms in this last trip.”
“He died as a hero living his biggest dream,” commented another user. “The travellers world lost a great inspiration. Sending lots of love to the whole family.”
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