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Brazilian influencer’s dream drive in 1978 Beetle to Alaska cut short in deadly car crash in Oregon

A 29-year-old influencer who was living his dream of traveling from his home country of Brazil, through the Americas to reach Alaska, has died just two days from his destination.  

Jesse Koz has traveled 52,000 miles and 17 countries in his 1978 Volkswagen Beetle with his pet Golden Retriever Shurastey since he began his trip in 2017.

But on Monday, Koz and his pet were killed in a head-on crash with a Ford Escape on US Highway 199 near Selma, Oregon. Koz and his dog were pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Ford Escape, Eileen Huss, 62, was taken to a hospital for treatment to her injuries. A two-year-old child who was in her vehicle was uninjured.

Brazilian influencer Jesse Koz and his Golden Retriever Shurastey had been joined at the hip for six years before they were both killed in a crash this week

Brazilian influencer Jesse Koz and his pet Golden Retriever Shurastey were killed Monday in Oregon when he collided with a vehicle head-on. Koz was just two days away from reaching his dream destination of Alaska, a trip that had been cut short in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic

Brazilian influencer Jesse Koz and his pet Golden Retriever Shurastey were killed Monday in Oregon when he collided with a vehicle head-on. Koz was just two days away from reaching his dream destination of Alaska, a trip that had been cut short in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic

Jesse Koz, a 29-year-old influencer from Brazil, and his pet dog had visited 17 countries since 2017

Jesse Koz, a 29-year-old influencer from Brazil, and his pet dog had visited 17 countries since 2017 

On Saturday, Koz shared a photo of his camp site in Oregon as he and his pet Golden Retriever were getting ready to get back on the road and drive to Alaska

On Saturday, Koz shared a photo of his camp site in Oregon as he and his pet Golden Retriever were getting ready to get back on the road and drive to Alaska

Jesse Koz returned to Queretaro, Mexico, to pick up his 1978 Volkswagen Beetle in January and restart his journey to Alaska

Jesse Koz returned to Queretaro, Mexico, to pick up his 1978 Volkswagen Beetle in January and restart his journey to Alaska

Koz has been on the road since 2017, but his trip to Alaska was slowed down in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, which prohibited him from driving across the Mexico-United States border and forced him to return to Brazil.

He launched named the journey ‘Shurastey or Shuaigow’, a playful combination of his dog’s name, with The Clash’s smash hit song, Should I Stay or Should I Go. 

He resumed his much-awaited journey in January, getting back to Mexico where he reunited with Volkswagen Beetle, which he playfully named ‘Dodongo.’

‘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,’ Koz explained. ‘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).’

Koz crossed from the northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo León to Texas on February 9 and later visited the NASA Space Center in Houston before heading for Louisiana. 

Koz decided to name his journey to Alaska, 'Shurastey or Shuaigow', a playful combination of his dog's name, with The Clash's hit song, Should I Stay or Should I Go

Koz decided to name his journey to Alaska, ‘Shurastey or Shuaigow’, a playful combination of his dog’s name, with The Clash’s hit song, Should I Stay or Should I Go

Brazilian Jesse Koz, known for traveling the world with his old Beetle, died in a traffic accident in the state of Oregon. He and his pet are pictured above during a stop in Arizona in late  April

Brazilian Jesse Koz, known for traveling the world with his old Beetle, died in a traffic accident in the state of Oregon. He and his pet are pictured above during a stop in Arizona in late  April

With the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance in San Francisco, Jesse Koz expressed the 'freedom' he felt of traveling the world. 'There is no happiness without freedom, and I always paid a lot to be free in this project,' he wrote. 'I came out of a prison that was my old life where others made the decisions for me so I could have the freedom to choose what I wanted!'

With the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance in San Francisco, Jesse Koz expressed the ‘freedom’ he felt of traveling the world. ‘There is no happiness without freedom, and I always paid a lot to be free in this project,’ he wrote. ‘I came out of a prison that was my old life where others made the decisions for me so I could have the freedom to choose what I wanted!’

Jesse Koz's 1978 Volkswagen Beetle was wrecked following the head-on collision with the Ford Escape

Jesse Koz’s 1978 Volkswagen Beetle was wrecked following the head-on collision with the Ford Escape

He paused on the morning of February 10 and watched the sunset with Shurastey, his best friend of six years, reliving the moments that they shared and the future that awaited them. 

‘I told him how important he was to me, and that I wouldn’t have made it this far without his company. He just smiled with his tongue hanging out and breathed not my face ,’ he wrote. ‘I just wanted to enjoy a sunset in the company of my friend, I know we still have many more to come and as far as it depends on me we will always be together until the sun sets one last time.’

The road trip took them through Mississippi before they made it to Florida, where he met his childhood idol, Brazilian Formula 1 driver Rubens  Barrichello.

In April, Koz’s drive up the East Coast included stops in Washington, where he posed in front of the Capitol, and a drive through Times Square in New York City. He headed north for a visit to Niagara Falls, where he got ‘surprised by a snowstorm.’

Jesse Koz and his Golden Retriever take a break from their journey through Florida in March

Jesse Koz and his Golden Retriever take a break from their journey through Florida in March

Koz, Shurastey and Dodongo then headed west, crossing through Illinois, Missourui Kansas, and Arizona, where they camped out near the Grand Canyon, before continuing on to California.

With the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, Koz expressed the ‘freedom’ he felt of traveling the world. 

‘There is no happiness without freedom, and I always paid a lot to be free in this project,’ he wrote. ‘I came out of a prison that was my old life where others made the decisions for me so I could have the freedom to choose what I wanted!’

On Saturday, Koz shared a photo of his old but reliable Beetle parked in the middle of a camp site in Grants Pass with his sleeping tent perched atop the car and described frigid conditions he and Shurastey dealt with as they prepared to get back on the road and head towards Alaska.

‘Hey my friends it’s time to enter Canada and finally head to Alaska,’ he wrote in Portuguese.

‘It has already started to get cold at the camp from yesterday to today and from now on it will colder and colder. But the good thing about the tent is that it withstands negative temperatures well and keeps the interior very warm and it also has a ventilation system that helps (keep out the hot air).’

Brazilian influencer Jesse Koz and his dog pose for picture in Arizona as they returned to the West Coast to continue their trip to Alaska

Brazilian influencer Jesse Koz and his dog pose for picture in Arizona as they returned to the West Coast to continue their trip to Alaska

One of Kuz's first stops after crossing from Mexico to the United States was the NASA Space Center in Houston

One of Kuz’s first stops after crossing from Mexico to the United States was the NASA Space Center in Houston


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