Rasputitsa Bike Accident

Burke- On Saturday April 29th 2023, during the Rasputitsa Dirt bike race in Burke, Vermont, race participant 54 year old Richard Wanstall of Marblehead, Massachusetts, was struck on his bicycle in the intersection of Brook road and Carter road and killed. 


Vermont State Police say that Wanstall was hit by 27 year old Alex Goss of East Haven, Vermont who was driving a 2007 Dodge truck. According to police, Wanstall was traveling on the south of Brook road where he then entered onto the northbound side of the road. Police reports say that's when Wanstall collided with the front end of Goss’s truck. State police say that speed and impairment are not currently factors in the crash. 


Some participants have expressed frustration that they were unaware anything even happened until after finishing the race. Other participants stated that they were turned around at the scene and told the race was canceled. 

In a statement, East Burke Fire Brigade Chief Josh Willey said, “Response was delayed for both departments, Vermont State Police and Lyndon Rescue, due to the bikers occupying both lanes and not yielding to emergency vehicles.” A statement from Lyndon Rescue says, “This incident is tragic, and our hearts go out to all those affected. Not only does this affect the victim's family, but it reverberates across the community.”

Members of the Burke community have remarked that the bicyclists were not sharing the road with cars, riding against traffic, and ignoring volunteers directing traffic. The investigation is still active and ongoing at this time.

Saturday evening following the death Rasputitsa released the following statement, “We are deeply saddened by the news that one of our community members died today, after colliding with a vehicle while on course. According to the Vermont State Police press release from 6:43 PM this evening, Richard Wanstall ‘collided with the front of a truck’ on Brook Road, near the intersection of Brook Road and Carter Road in the Town of Burke. The Vermont State Police have said the incident is still under investigation and are asking anyone who may have witnessed the incident or have other information to contact the Vermont State Police at 802-241-5000. We do not have any information at this time other than what the State Police have publicly released so far, but we will reach out to our community with updates as we learn more.”

News7 has reached out for comment from the Lyndonville Police Department, Vermont State Police, Vermont Mountain Biking Association, and Burke Mountain marketing manager Jessica Sechler who have all yet to respond for comment. 

Alex Goss, Dirt Church Brewing, and Burke town administrator Jim Sulivan, have all declined to speak with us. However Dirt Church brewing provided the following statement, “Our hearts go out to all involved. We respond by standing strong in support of the families and friends affected, the race organizers and volunteers, and our entire community. We ask that we all give the respect, space, and privacy that is needed during this difficult time. Thank you.”

Burke community members are expressing their sadness over the tragedy. Johnny Lotti, owner of Cafe Lotti, shared his shock, “I mean we’re all in shock over it, and it's just a brutal, brutal tragedy and I just hope everyone is able to move on from it.” The Burke community is still struggling with the loss. Some are wishing well for the family, while others are looking for change. The Facebook Burke Community page moderator Steven Joyce, says he has heard all sides of the argument in the past few days. He believes, “This incident’s sadly becoming kind of a lightning rod for discussion. Both good, bad and productive.” 

When asked about if he believed the race would go on next year after a tragedy like this, Joyce shared his sorrows before supporting a return of the race. “There is an inherent danger, there's a reason why we sign waivers. So I think to people that are involved in sports of any type whether it's football, baseball or something to that intent, there's always a freak accident or tragedy. The show must go on to a certain extent. Sadly the loss of a participant is just tragic and horrible and I feel for the family, I feel for the company that lost their CFO. This is a person that you know, had touched many lives, and unfortunately is no longer with us.


So I think anytime something like that happens it definitely makes you pause, but as an organizer I don't see them just doing a hard stop and just saying like, ‘okay we’re just not gonna do the event.’ Again there's inherent danger especially… not this incident but last year, I think it was the vermont overland race. A participant crashed by himself, a very accomplished cyclist, someone that could have actually won. He crashed and unfortunately succumbed to his injuries. So I don't think they are gonna stop that race and I don't know what Hidi and Tony are gonna do with this one, I’m not either of them. I know that this is a very important event to them, I know that they have done a ton of good with the event, and I don't think they'll necessarily close up shop, pack it up and put it on a shelf somewhere. I think much more good has come out of this event for folks than tragedy.”  

Race organizers Hidi and Tony have yet to be reached for comment.