Vancouver Whitecaps’ executive chair John Furlong’s wife Deborah dies after car crash

Andrew Bucholtz
April 12, 2013

It's a tough time for one of Canadian sport's most prominent names. John Furlong, the executive chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps and the former CEO of the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Olympics, lost his wife Deborah following a car accident in Ireland Thursday. In a statement released Friday, Furlong said he and his family are crushed by the loss:

“It is with a broken heart that I must tell you of the death of my beloved wife Deborah Sharp Furlong as a result of an automobile accident while driving alone on vacation in the southeast of Ireland on April 11, 2013.”Furlong said their extended families are “beyond words” over the loss and he thanked his friends and well-wishers for their heartfelt concern as the family faces this sudden and painful tragedy.

According to a release from the Irish police, Deborah Sharp Furlong's car collided head-on with a 4X4 around 10:30 a.m. local time Thursday morning. She was seriously injured in the crash and taken to hospital, where she later passed away. The driver of the other car reportedly sustained minor injuries.

Deborah Sharp Furlong had been married to Furlong for about a year. She worked in the film industry, serving as a post-production supervisor on such series as Search and Rescue, Cold Squad and Stargate SG-1, and most recently was an assistant to the executive producer on CBC's Arctic Air. She was 48.

The loss of his wife adds to what's been a difficult year for Furlong. He took on an exciting new job with the Whitecaps' role last April, but although that seems to be working out well, he came under fire last September thanks to a Georgia Straight piece from journalist Laura Robinson that accused him of physically and mentally abusing First Nations children in Burns Lake, B.C. back in the 1970s. Furlong has strenuously denied those accusations and is suing Robinson, as well as Straight publisher Daniel McLeod and editor Charlie Smith.