February 9, 2016

Conflicting reports circulate around 2010 death

Feb. 15, 2012

By Luke Baynes
Observer staff

Records obtained by the Observer have shed light on opposing reports first presented at a Feb. 6 Williston Selectboard grievance hearing, at which Detective Sgt. Bart Chamberlain raised concerns about a 2010 traffic accident that led to a 73-year-old man’s death.

On Oct. 18, 2010, Dale Holcomb, 73, struck a utility pole on Vermont 2A near Hurricane Lane, after two prior interactions with members of the Williston Police Department earlier in the evening. He was pronounced dead at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington at 1:47 a.m. the following morning.

According to Williston Police records, dispatch received a call at 3:58 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2010 regarding an elderly male passed out in the parking lot of Shaw’s supermarket with his foot “floored on the accelerator” of his parked vehicle.

Officer Travis Trybulski responded to the call.

Per Trybulski’s report, he observed that the elderly male (Holcomb) had “a prescription pill bottle in his right shirt pocket,” and that “the driver side rear tire was almost completely flat.”

After members of the Williston Fire Department’s emergency medical services team arrived and attended to Holcomb in the back of the ambulance, Trybulski cleared the scene and left.

Later that evening, at 8:13 p.m., Officers Joshua Moore and Keith Gonyeau responded to a call placed to dispatch by off-duty Officer Eric Shepard (who, along with Trybulski, responded to the call earlier in the day) that there was an elderly male subject (Holcomb) “slumped over the steering wheel of his vehicle.”

According to Moore’s report, upon responding to the scene and finding Holcomb initially unresponsive but, upon waking, “belligerent and uncooperative,” Moore asked him if he had any medical conditions, to which Holcomb advised: “High blood pressure.”

Moore further stated: “Officer Gonyeau asked Holcomb if he was a diabetic, and Holcomb advised ‘I am a borderline diabetic.’”

According to Gonyeau’s report, he arrived on the scene after Moore and EMS members.

Gonyeau stated: “While Williston Rescue was dealing with Holcomb, I heard that he was diabetic but was refusing any medical attention and he was refusing to allow Rescue perform (sic) any preliminary testing, to include checking his (redacted by attorneys for the town of Williston). Holcomb continued to refuse any medical attention and advised that he had just fallen asleep.”

According to the Williston EMS report, dispatch received a call at 8:15 p.m. The nature of the call was reported as “possible diabetic emergency.”

The EMS report — handwritten in medical jargon — states that Holcomb “remembers driving to parking lot but not why he was there,” and that “PD (police department) assumed responsibility for PT (patient) care.” It further states that “PD (Officer Gonyeau) signed refusal (form) since PT refused (to be evaluated).”

Holcomb’s autopsy, conducted at the request of his family by Vermont Chief Medical Examiner Steven Shapiro, states as the manner of death: “Accident (restrained driver of car in collision with utility pole, possible cardiac arrest while driving).”

As a result of the incidents that occurred on the night of Oct. 18, 2010, Williston Police Chief Roy Nelson asked Chamberlain to perform an investigation.

On Nov. 29, 2010, Chamberlain sent Nelson an email, in which he alleged that there were discrepancies between Moore’s report and the police cruiser video from the evening of the incident — specifically, a debate between Moore and Gonyeau over whether Holcomb had medical issues or mental disabilities.

Chamberlain concluded in the Nov. 29 email: “The bottom line is Officer Moore was concerned that Mr. Holcomb needed help and should not be driving, but he followed Officer Gonyeau’s lead in writing him off as just crazy. … I believe we have no choice but to inform the Office of the Chittenden County State’s Attorney of this report, it is in direct contradiction to the conversations that actually took place during this incident and was obviously written by an officer who did not realize Officer Gonyeau had recorded the entire incident.”

In a subsequent email to Nelson, dated Nov. 30, 2010, Chamberlain alleges that other senior members of the department agreed with his assessment of the incident.

He stated: “For the record, Sergeant (Scott) Graham has been telling Police Department employees that Officer Gonyeau and Moore should not have let him drive and that Mr. Holcomb would still be alive today if they had acted. Sergeant Graham states he has already told you this. According to Sergeant Graham, Sergeant (Brian) Claffy feels the same way. I have not expressed any disagreement with the officers’ decisions to any other officer in this department.”

According to a memorandum sent to Nelson and Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire by Attorney Colin McNeil of McNeil Leddy & Sheahan P.C., McNeil was commissioned by the town on Dec. 1, 2010 to investigate the Holcomb incident.

McNeil’s 10-page report concluded: “It is our opinion that Officer Moore’s report is consistent with the facts and information we gathered from the materials you presented to us regarding this incident and his written explanation in response to the allegation of deliberate falsehood is both plausible and factually supported by the materials and other officers’ reports provided. In addition, it is our opinion that neither Officer Gonyeau nor Moore were derelict in their duties in investigating this incident and that both acted appropriately pursuant to the circumstances presented.”

Nelson, in an open letter dated Dec. 22, 2010, concurred with McNeil’s conclusions.

“…There is no wrongdoing on the part of Officer Moore with regards to his truthfulness … And find (Officers Moore and Gonyeau) utilized legal avenues afforded them by State Statute to investigate the matter,” Nelson wrote.

PHOTOS: CVU wrestling

Courtesy photos by Jennifer Olson

On Feb. 4, Champlain Valley Union grapplers Clark Poston and Ryan Fleming were winners in the 17-team Jason Lowell Memorial Tournament at Mount Mansfield Union. Coach Rahn Fleming’s ‘Hawks took fifth overall in the event, won by Northern Adirondack (Ellenburg, N.Y.).

PHOTOS: Me & My Guy dance

Observer photos by Kayla Walters (www.kaylaphoto.weebly.com)

Williston Girl Scouts hosted the 8th annual Me & My Guy Dance, held at Williston Central School on Feb. 4. All proceeds benefitted CY Youth Mentoring.

PHOTOS: Penguin Plunge

Observer photos by Dave Schmidt (www.daveschmidtphoto.com)

Twenty-two members of the Williston Central School’s Penguin Plunge team entered the icy waters of Lake Champlain in Burlington on Feb. 4 and raised more than $6,500 for the Vermont Special Olympics.

CVU Sports Schedule

Feb. 9, 2012




Thursday: ST. JOHNSBURY, 6:45 p.m.

Monday: at Mount Mansfield, 7:15 p.m.



Friday: at BFA-St. Albans, 7:45 p.m.

Tuesday: ST. JOHNSBURY, 6:45 p.m.



Thursday: at U-32 (East Montpelier), 7 p.m.

Wednesday: ESSEX, 7 p.m.



Saturday: SPAULDING, 5:15 P.M.

Wednesday: at Middlebury, 7 p.m.



Saturday: SPAULDING, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: at BFA-St. Albans, 7 p.m.



No scheduled events



No scheduled events



No scheduled events



Schedules subject to change


Sports Shorts

Feb. 9, 2012



Mired in a two-game losing streak in which it has put up only 67 points, the Champlain Valley Union boys basketball team hopes to heat up the cords at Bremner Gymnasium Thursday night when 4-10 St. Johnsbury Academy comes calling.

The Redhawks are coming off a final moments loss Monday night in Barre when Spaulding’s Evan Grubb hit a shot with 10 seconds left to give the 6-7 Tide a 39-37 win. CVU (8-7) got 12 points each from Lucas Aube and Tucker Kohlasch.

Last Wednesday (Feb. 1), the CVU defense was also tough — forcing once-beaten Rice Memorial to rally from a 20-19 halftime deficit to score a 41-30 triumph on the Green Knights’ home court. John Keen led the Redhawks with 11 tallies.

In their last four games, CVU has allowed foes an average of just 33 points.



With a six-game losing string now behind them, the Champlain Valley Union boys hockey team took a 5-9 record on the road to Harwood Wednesday night (after Observer press deadline).

Coach Mike Murray’s Redhawks return to their Cairns Arena home ice Saturday for a 5:15 p.m. faceoff with Spaulding (Barre), a team they beat 4-2 on the road in early January.

When his team shook off two straight scoreless matches in rallying from a first-period 6-1 deficit to get within 6-4 of South Burlington Jan.28 in the annual CSB Cup contest, Murray said his team might have “gotten over the hump.”

Apparently he was right. In their lone outing since that game, the ‘Hawks bashed Burlington 11-3 last Wednesday (Feb. 1), giving them 15 goals in their last two games — two more scores than in their previous nine contests.

Max Hopper led the charge with four net finders. Teammates Pat Keelan, Kirk Fontana and Chris Bulla each bagged a pair of pointers while Brendan Gannon notched a singleton.

Zach Weimer had 15 saves in the CVU cage while the Hawks unloaded a total of 35 shots on the Burlington net.



Just two regular season competitions remain for the unbeaten Champlain Valley Union gymnastics team: at East Montpelier and U-32 Thursday evening and home (Green Mountain Gymnastics in Williston) against defending state champion Essex on Feb. 15.

Last year, coach Carly O’Brien Rivard’s Redhawks nipped the Hornets during the regular season but bowed to the champs in the state meet. This year’s title meet is scheduled for Feb. 25 at Essex High School.

Last Wednesday (Feb. 1), CVU rolled over Middlebury 135-110.95 with sophomore Megan Nick capturing first place on the vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Sarah Kinsely earned a victory on the bars. Ashley Bachand was runner-up on the bars and beam, and Kinsely was second in floor exercise. Madison Tieso tied for second on the vault while Grace Carey took thirds on the beam and floor exercise. Emma Sienkiewycz was third on the bars.



After putting the wraps on its regular season Wednesday night (after Observer press deadline) with a home meet against Middlebury and Colchester, the Champlain Valley Union wrestling team is looking ahead to the Vermont State Championships on Feb. 24 and 25 at St. Johnsbury Academy.

Last Saturday (Feb. 4), CVU’s Clark Poston and Ryan Fleming were winners in the 17-team Jason Lowell Memorial Tournament at Mount Mansfield Union. Coach Rahn Fleming’s ‘Hawks took fifth overall in the event, won by Northern Adirondack (Ellenburg, N.Y.). Poston, as per usual, posted a win in the 182-pound class while Ryan Fleming was victorious in the 220-pound class.

On Feb. 1, the Redhawks beat Milton 30-18 but lost to St. Johnsbury 40-15 in a tri-meet. Alex Lagg (106 pounds) and Ryan Fleming (220 pounds) won against Milton while Patrick Shea (145) and Sam Fortin (170) out-grappled their St. Johnsbury foes.



Skiing at the Mount Mansfield Touring center in Stowe last Thursday (Feb. 2) instead of snow-challenged St. Albans, Champlain Valley Nordic skiers swooshed past their foes in both boys and girls divisions.

Next up was a scheduled event Wednesday afternoon (after Observer press deadline) at Colchester.

At Stowe, the girls, led by event winner Taylor Spillane, earned a solid victory over runner-up Colchester in the team results, 17-81. Spillane paced seven Redhawks in the top 10: Cally Braun (fourth), Emma Hamilton (fifth), Kathryn Maitland (seventh), Autumn Eastman (eighth), Emily Berry (ninth) and Ellie Stone (10th).

In team totals, CVU boys topped second place Colchester, 17-35. Sam Logenbach skiied into second place, Ian Meier was third and Parker Francis came in fourth. Also in the front 11 were Thomas Clayton (eighth), Colin Snyder (ninth) and Cooper Willsey (11th).


In the recent Essex Invitational Alpine ski races at Smuggler’s Notch, Champlain Valley Union High skiers found some successes on the downhill slopes.

Emma Putre came in second behind winner Dakotah Patnode of Mount Mansfield Union High in the girls two-run giant slalom. In the girls two-run slalom, won by Mount Mansfield’s Ali Chivers, Putre came in fourth. CVU’s Abby Owens placed fifth.

Among the boys, Mount Mansfield’s David Polson won both events. CVU’s Mark Deslauriers took third in slalom and seventh in the GS. Redhawks’ Bennett Hadley and Skye Golann were fourth and seventh in slalom.



Williston resident Taggart Francis, 17, won the rail jam event in his age group as part of the ski and snowboard night rider series at Bolton Valley on Feb. 1. Willistonian Asa Mease finished second and fellow resident Max Erickson placed third.


Winless CVU girls hockey hit the road

0-13 ‘Hawks traveling to MVU, BFA

Feb. 9, 2012

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent


Its late rally and bid for the season’s first victory nipped Saturday (Feb. 4) by Colchester at Cairns Arena, the 0-13 Champlain Valley Union girls hockey team has tough tests coming up against the top rung of the division. It began at home Wednesday (after Observer press deadline) against 9-4-1 Missisquoi Valley Union.

A strong Spaulding team visits Cairns Saturday. The Redhawks then head for St. Albans and 9-3-2 BFA on Feb. 15.

Coach Ben Psaros’ crew was down 5-0 to Colchester before mounting a furious third-period rally to get back within two goals with more than eight minutes remaining.

But despite outshooting the Lakers 18-7 in the reel and getting a power play opportunity in the closing five minutes, the Redhawks were unable to get closer.

Colchester goalie Erica Hoffman made two late stops off Molly Dunphy shots in the final minutes, one time falling on the puck to keep it out of the cage.

The bust out rally began with 12:58 left when sophomore Abby Smith scored with an assist from Dunphy, also a sophomore.

A little more than three minutes later, Dunphy fired a goal with an assist from hard-skating senior Rowan Hayes.

Less than a minute later, Hayes found the range with assists from Eva Dunphy and Hannah Carpenter.

Defeated twice previously this season by the Lakers, CVU came out strong in the first period but got taken off stride when Colchester’s Kellie Lockerby knocked the puck past Hawks goalie Nicole Sisk (20 saves) at 11:21 and then added a power play score a little more than a minute later.

The Lakers then took the better of territorial play as Haley Forkey added two second-period goals and Erin Turner got one. All three Colchester scorers were sophomores.

CVU came back to control play for most of the final stanza.

CVU frosh squad is perfect

‘Hawks boys hoopsters finish 15-0

Feb. 9, 2012

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent


With a perfect 15-0 campaign on the line last Thursday (Feb. 2), the Champlain Valley Union freshmen boys basketball team ran past its Rice Memorial counterparts by a 65-52 score to complete the rare feat.

“It’s pretty amazing,” first year coach Chris Wirkmaa told the Observer this week.

He said the team’s keys to victory were balance throughout the 13-player roster, a pressure, full-court defense and effective transition play.

“It starts with defense,” Wirkmaa said.

The Rice contest was the season finale for the youthful Redhawks.


CVU Freshmen Boys Basketball Roster

No.        Player

0            Michael French

1            Sam Lewis

2            Will Potter

3            Jack Zullo

4            Nik Delphia

5            Drew Fisher

10            Rayne Supple

12            Kyle White

13            Caleb Geffken

14            Deagan Poland

15            Antonio Ferrentino

20            Nick Lynn

21            Patrick McCue

Coach: Chris Wirkmaa

Trainer:  Tony Lora

CVU girls basketball continues surge

Spaulding, North Country, Rice latest victims

Feb. 9, 2012

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent


As Bremner Gymnasium emptied Tuesday night in the wake of the Champlain Valley Union girls basketball team’s 13th straight win to start the season, a 48-34 popping of visiting 5-9 Spaulding, coach Ute Otley was asked about the next test for her undefeated charges: Friday’s trip to BFA-St. Albans.

“They (BFA) always play well at home. It’s a tough place to go,” said the coach.

The Comets, 9-5, will be coming off consecutive losses at St. Johnsbury and Burlington.

The Redhawks return home Tuesday to face St. Johnsbury.

In the Spaulding win, CVU trailed briefly (18-16) early in the third quarter and then zoomed to a game dominating 19-4 run, with sophomores Kaelyn Kohlasch (six points) and Emily Kinneston (five points) doing the heavy lifting.

Kohlasch, seemingly everywhere the ball was, led game scorers with 14 points, including eight cord cutters in 10 free throw attempts.

Kinneston had five points, but contributed other valuable assets including six rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals.

Lazrin Schenck helped rule the boards (CVU 39-17 edge) with eight rebounds to go with eight points and three steals.

A big plus for the Hawks was the season debut of senior 5-8 inside operator Caroline Limanek, coming off a pre-season shoulder injury. Limanek scored nine points (seven in the second half) and hauled in five rebounds in limited minutes.

“It felt good,” the veteran said of her physical play.

“Caroline played very well tonight,” Otley said.

Tuesday’s triumph followed a victorious mix of high tension and emotion in last Friday’s (Feb. 3) 42-40 win at Rice Memorial and the following day’s comeback 44-38 home nipping of 4-8 North Country.

It was finger nail-chewing, hair-pulling drama at a nearly filled Rice gym, where a raucous crowd created a tournament atmosphere.

Kohlasch (four points) provided the garnishment with a 16-foot soft, arching twine twitcher from the baseline with six seconds left to crack a 40-all tie. It was just her fourth shot.

Elana Bayer-Pacht (seven points, six rebounds, two assists) got the ball to Kohlasch on an out-of-bounds play at the CVU end.

“I saw she was open and had a screen,” Bayer-Pacht later said.

The screen was provided by Schenck (four points, 10 rebounds), who was a vital presence during the contest.

Bayer-Pacht had two other key plays in the closing minutes. The CVU senior drew an offensive foul (and thus the ball) on a Rice player while the Green Knights were trying to stall out the closing minutes with a 41-40 lead.

Later, with just 17.8 seconds on the clock, she drew an intentional foul that gave her two free throws and CVU the ball. Bayer-Pacht missed the free throws — one when the scoreboard buzzer inexplicably sounded — but later set up the game-winning play.

Kinneston came up big in the win with 17 points, including four hoops in the third period when the Redhawks recovered from a 26-17 halftime deficit. She also had four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Rice (8-4) was led by 6-2 center Cassidy Derda with 17 points and seven rebounds. Williston’s Emma Chicoine had three points, three rebounds and a pair of assists for the Knights.

The following afternoon, with emotions drained from the previous night’s white-knuckle adventure, the Redhawks held on to knock off the young, upset-minded Falcons from North Country — thanks to Bayer-Pacht’s big second half of 14 points.

Led by Remi Donnelly (10 bounds), Bayer-Pacht (nine) and Schenck (seven), the Redhawks controlled the boards and rallied in the third quarter (after trailing 26-23). Donnelly and Bayer-Pacht each scored four points during the run.

Kinneston added 11 points for CVU, along with four rebounds.



CVU 48, Spaulding 34 (Tuesday)


Spaulding (5-9)

Lafrance, 4 0-0 10; Dessureau. 1 1-2 3; Bellavance, 0 4-6 4; N. Fowler, 2 0-2 5; M. Fowler, 1 4-4 6; Thygesen, 0 0-0 0; Lawson, 0 0-0 0; Bello, 2 0-0 4; Metevier, 0 0-0 0; Hardy, 0 0-0 0; LeCours, 0 2-2 2.

Totals: 10 11-16 34


CVU (13-0)

Schenck, 3 2-2 8; Bayer-Pacht, 1 1-6 3; Donnelly, 0 0-0 0; Kohlasch, 3 8-10 14; Kinneston, 2 1-2 5; Krupp, 1 1-2 3; Grasso, 1 0-0 2; Limanek, 4 1-3 9; Whiteside, 1 0-4 2; Beatty, 1 0-0 2; Leach, 0 0-0 0.

Totals: 17 14-29 48


Spaulding     4   9   9  12  – 34

CVU            8   8  19  13  – 48



CVU 44, North Country 38 (Feb. 4)


North Country (4-8)

Bingham, 3 0-0 8; Pinard, 2 0-1 4; Coffin, 1 0-0 3; Joslin, 3 2-5 9; Morin, 0 0-0 0; O’Donnell, 3 0-1 6; Stanley, 0 0-0 0. Keefe, 1 0-0 2; Jewer, 3 0-0 6.

Totals: 16 2-7 38


CVU (12-0)

Lozon, 1 0-0 2; Bayer-Pacht, 3 7-8 14; Donnelly, 2 2-4 6; Kohlasch, 1 3-4 5; Kinneston, 4 3-4 11; Whiteside, 0 0-0 0; Schenck, 1 0-0 2; Krupp 0 0-0 0; Beatty, 0 1-2 1; Leach, 1 0-0 3.

Totals: 13 16-22 44


NCUHS    6  16   6  10  – 38

CVU       12   7  10  15  – 44



CVU 42, Rice 40 (Feb. 3)


CVU (11-0)

Lozon, 0 1-2 1; Bayer-Pacht, 3 1-6 7; Donnelly, 4 1-2 9; Kohlasch, 2 0-0 4; Kinneston, 7 3-3 17; Schenck, 0 4-7 4; Krupp, 0 0-0 0; Beatty, 0 0-0 0; Whiteside, 0 0-0 0; Leach, 0 0-0 0.

Totals: 16 10-20 42


Rice (8-4)

Akinpetide, 1 0-0 2; Chicoine, 1 1-2 3; Derda, 5 6-8 17; Barron, 5 0-2 10; Boucher, 0 2-4 2; Kowalski, 0 1-2 1; Bunch, 0 0-0 0; Snell, 2 0-0 5.

Totals: 14 10-18 40


CVU           7  10  14  11  – 42

Rice           9  17    7    7  – 40



Police Notes

Feb. 9, 2012




  •   Corey W. Nulty, 29, of St. George was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on Jan. 24, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.
  •  Misty L. Phelps, 30, of Essex was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on Feb. 6, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.
  •  James W. Colburn, 36, of Swanton was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on Feb. 7, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.



Donald L. Bevins, 75, of Williston was cited on a charge of violating conditions of release on Jan. 25, according to police reports. On Jan. 27, he was again cited for violating conditions of release, as well as “disturbing the peace by telephone,” according to the report. No other information was released.



  •   James R. Wilkinson, 56, of Milton was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license and arrested on three outstanding warrants on Jan. 25, according to police reports. He was taken to Chittenden County Correctional Center.
  •  Matthew Terry, 40, of New York was arrested on Jan. 27 on an outstanding warrant from Grand Isle County for disorderly conduct, according to police reports. He was lodged at Chittenden County Correctional Center on $1,000 bail, according to the report.



Bill M. Rublee Jr., 25, of Milton was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on Jan. 27, according to police reports. His blood alcohol concentration was .86, the report notes. The legal limit for driving in Vermont is .08. He was cited to appear in court.



Kristin Gero, 24, of Winooski was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on Feb. 1 and arrested on four outstanding warrants for driving with a suspended license as well as two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, according to police reports. She was lodged at Chittenden County Correctional Center on $1,700 bail, according to the report. A passenger in her vehicle, Matthew Sherman, 32, of Milton was arrested on a warrant for retail theft, and was lodged at the Center on $250 bail, the report notes.


Police notes are written based on information provided by the Williston Police Department and the Vermont State Police. Please note that all parties are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.