Wrong-way crash kills exotic pet store owner, ‘truly a good soul’


As Dylan Hazelhurst drove from Colorado to Las Vegas on Feb. 4, he was residing his dream.

The 30-year-old was going to go to his newly opened Las Vegas exotic pet store — the second location for his business that was lastly taking off. His rescue parrot and three canine, Achilles, Sienna and Annie, who was simply a pet, had been with him in his 2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. He was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him quickly.

He was about 50 miles from Las Vegas when a wrong-way driver crashed into his van head-on. Hazelhurst and the opposite driver, 39-year-old Rayanne May Walters, of Logandale, each died on the scene.

“He truly was a good soul,” Hazelhurst’s mom, Debbie Hazelhurst, stated Tuesday in a telephone interview. “Maybe that’s the ones that God takes early. I don’t understand why, because he was only 30.”

Nevada Highway Patrol troopers had been known as to the crash about 9:25 p.m. Feb. 4 on Interstate-15 close to Moapa. Investigators consider Walters, who was driving a 2004 Toyota Tacoma, was touring north within the southbound lanes on the freeway when she crashed into Hazelhurst, who was from Grand Junction, Colorado.

Highway Patrol spokesman Travis Smaka stated Tuesday that the company continues to be investigating what induced the crash, including that investigators are ready on toxicology stories to find out if impairment was a issue.

Debbie Hazelhurst stated realizing how the crash occurred would offer some solutions, however “nothing is going to bring back our son.”

Walters’ household didn’t reply to a request for remark. During a temporary telephone name Tuesday, a girl who recognized herself as Walters’ mom stated, “She was a beautiful person.”

A love for animals

Also killed within the crash had been Hazelhurst’s canine, Annie and Achilles, and his 45-year-old yellow-breasted Amazon parrot, Fred. Debbie Hazelhurst, who additionally lives in Grand Junction, Colorado, stated she and her husband drove to the crash web site to seek out Fred’s physique, in order that her son’s pets who died could possibly be cremated with him.

Sienna, Dylan Hazelhurst’s solely pet to outlive, is now residing along with his girlfriend. The household has taken to calling her “Sienna Angel,” as a result of she didn’t have a scratch on her after the crash, Debbie Hazelhurst stated.

Hazelhurst grew up loving animals, his mom stated. As a baby he wandered along with his pet canine, looking for lizards, snakes and scorpions. He “lived and breathed” the Discovery Channel, and Steve Irwin was his hero.

“He talked about this forever in his life — that some day he was going to do something with animals,” Debbie Hazelhurst stated. “That was all he ever wanted to do.”

In 2013, Dylan Hazelhurst began his business Crocodile Reef, which at first centered on putting in customized fish and reptile tanks. The business grew to incorporate a reptile and exotic animal exhibit common with subject journeys and kids’s birthday events.

Through his work, Hazelhurst turned pals with Ken Foose, who opened his Exotic Pets store in Las Vegas in 1991. When Foose died in September, Hazelhurst didn’t need his dying to go away a everlasting gap within the Las Vegas exotic animal neighborhood, Debbie Hazelhurst stated.

So Dylan Hazelhurst took over the Exotic Pets area, holding a grand opening for his second Crocodile Reef location in November, his mom stated. He spent weeks at a time in Las Vegas, and was contemplating transferring to the state.

Throughout his life, the 30-year-old had owned snakes, lizards, iguanas, tarantulas, bugs and wallabies. While animals took up most of his time, “there wasn’t much he didn’t try,” Debbie Hazelhurst stated. Her son raced go-karts in Italy, jumped from planes as a skydiver and volunteered to journey a dwell bull.

He traveled continuously, and Debbie Hazelhurst has spent the previous few weeks fielding well-wishes from individuals throughout the U.S., a few of whom solely met her son as soon as, however by no means forgot his kindness.

“He was the goofy guy, he was the one who made everyone laugh,” Debbie Hazelhurst stated, including that his dying has left “a void” within the household.

‘He lived the dream’

Dylan Hazelhurst knew his mother and father nervous when he took lengthy drives, and he made a level to be in contact, his mom stated. She heard his voice for the final time about an hour earlier than the crash — she needed to name and see how far he was from the Las Vegas Valley.

She and her husband went to mattress shortly after, anticipating to get up to a textual content from their son. But there have been no notifications the following morning. Then got here a name from the Clark County coroner’s office.

“It was just awful,” Debbie Hazelhurst stated. “It’s still awful.”

She knew her son was conscious that his lengthy drives may flip tragic. About a month earlier than the crash, her son sat her down and stated if something had been to occur to him, he needed his mother and father to maintain his business going.

So that’s what Debbie Hazelhurst is doing. She and her husband, who had been already taking care of the store in Colorado, are maintaining with the animals and dealing with their son’s workers.

After bouncing between odd jobs, Crocodile Reef didn’t actually “take off” till this previous year, Debbie Hazelhurst stated. But she is joyful her son by no means gave up on his objectives.

“He lived the dream that he talked about,” she stated.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at [email protected] or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.