'A man among men': Driver killed after SUV plows into Gastonia animal hospital

'A man among men': Man killed after SUV plows into Gastonia animal hospital

GASTONIA, N.C. — A driver was killed after crashing through the side of an animal hospital overnight in Gastonia, according to emergency officials.

Police identified the driver as 28-year-old Jonathan Wilson.

Channel 9 learned Wilson, who just celebrated his birthday two days ago, was headed home after a night out with friends when he crashed.

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Wilson was a musician at the church, where both his parents are pastors.

His grief-stricken father told Eyewitness News reporter Ken Lemon that his son was "a man among men" and "everything a dad could want."

Wilson's dad said before Wilson was even born, doctors feared he may not survive, but he lived to bring a lot of people joy.

Paramedics were called around 12:20 a.m. Thursday to the scene at the Eastridge Animal Hospital on East Franklin Boulevard.

When first responders arrived, they found extensive damage to the building after Wilson's SUV crashed through the side of it.

Authorities are not sure yet what caused Wilson to drive 200 feet off the road and smash into the animal hospital.

The Eastridge office manager shared photos with Channel 9 showing how the SUV damaged two examination rooms, including a pharmacy inside.

"It's heartbreaking to see that," said Eastridge Animal Hospital employee Wendy Matheson.

The office manager estimated they lost about $20,000 worth of medicine and medical supplies.

Two baskets of medication are all that were leftover after the crash, so staff spent Thursday trying to reorder supplies.

Officials said the four dogs and one cat that stayed at the hospital overnight were not hurt.

"If the animals would have been on the other side, they would have been destroyed, or had it had been during the day, it could have been one of our doctors, the techs or any of us could have been back there," Matheson said.

The animal hospital hopes to open by Saturday to handle emergencies.

Gastonia police are investigating what caused the deadly crash.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.