ST. PAUL, Minn. - The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine says one of its faculty members has died in a traffic accident in the Czech Republic.
A statement from the college Wednesday says Dr. Robert Morrison, his wife and several companions were in the accident north of Prague. It says they were traveling before attending a swine health management conference. Agriculture.com reports that Pam Wetzell, wife of Tom Wetzell with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health; and Deb Spronk, wife of Gordon Spronk, DVM, with Pipestone Veterinary Systems, also died in the crash. Both are from Minnesota.
Morrison's wife, Jeanie, is hospitalized in critical condition. Gordon Spronk and Tom Wetzel were treated at a local hospital and released, the report said.
The six passengers were travelling to the European College of Porcine Health Management conference. Czech police are offering few details, saying only that three Americans died in the collision with a truck Tuesday near Melnik, north of Prague.
"Dr. Morrison was an international leader in the swine industry," says Dr. Trevor Ames, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. "This is a tragic loss for the strong team of students and faculty that Bob helped us build. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Morrison family."
Morrison was hired by the U of M in 1986 and recently launched the Swine Health Monitoring Project, which provides weekly reports on the health status of over 50% of the U.S. sow herds. He also coordinated two internationally-respected swine health management conferences: the St. Paul, MN-based Allen D. Leman Swine Conference and the Leman China Conference in Nanjing, China.
The college's statement doesn't identify the other victims, and police haven't confirmed whether Morrison's wife was among them.
“He (Dr. Morrison) was leading some very important research projects. He obviously touched a lot of lives,” added Ames.
Police say six Americans were traveling in a rented SUV. Morrison and a woman died immediately. Another woman died in a hospital, while one woman was hospitalized in critical condition, and two men escaped unharmed.