Phish trip turns tragic |

Phish trip turns tragic

Ryan Slabaugh

UNDERHILL, Vt. – Three Breckenridge Phish fans were killed in a head-on collision Friday while driving to the group’s last concert in Vermont.Michael Winepol, 27, Lindsay Malkiewcz, 25, and Sean Travis, 31, were declared dead at the scene of the crash, according to a Vermont state police report.Vermont State Police said the three had flown to Burlington from Colorado and rented a 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis. They were traveling to Coventry, Vt., in a caravan on Route 15 when they hit a Ford pickup truck.”They were the last in line of three vehicles,” Vt. State Police Sgt. John Flannigan told WCAX-TV. “For some reason, the vehicle suddenly swerved into the westbound lane and struck a Ford F-350 truck.”At least one was an employee of the Salt Creek Saloon in Breckenridge. All three were described by friends as genuine and happy.Winepol had worked for the last three years as a sales assistant at Designs for Time on Main Street in Breckenridge. Owner Terry Lowe said Winepol was a voracious Phish fan, and that the Coventry concert would have been his 75th. The band Phish formed in 1983 while all four members attended the University of Vermont. They toured relentlessly, released 34 albums and built a huge following of jam-band lovers.”He would do anything to get to those concerts,” Lowe said. “He would even hire someone to work for him if he didn’t think I was going to let him go.””He was the best,” Lowe said of Winepol, who learned the jewelry trade growing up in his father’s Greensboro, N.C., jewelry store and had spent his first winter in Breckenridge as a snowboard instructor. Winepol also played rec league hockey with Ullr Sports Grill this past winter.Lowe described Winepol as a genuine and giving person. Last year, Winepol discovered one of his roommates had died suddenly in their apartment. Lowe said Winepol never left the side of his roommates’ parents for 10 days while they visited to understand what happened. “He did everything for them, anything they wanted,” Lowe said.”Lindsay was a really, good person,” said friend Annie Jefferson. “She just finished college and she was going out in the world. Sean was always happy. They were too young to die.”The driver of the pickup truck, 53-year-old Gary Barnes of Enosburg Falls, and his passenger, 44-year-old Kevin Reed, were injured. Barnes suffered a fractured left hip and Reed suffered a fractured left femur. They were not wearing their seat belts, according to the Vermont State Police report. Winepol and Travis were wearing seatbelts, while Malkiewcz was not.The police report also reported wet road conditions.The concert was to be a celebration of Phish-heads. Phish sold 70,000 tickets to the show, but heavy rain storms kept almost 20 miles of traffic from getting to the muddy parking lots. The last estimate was that 23,000 fans actually reached the venue, but no other fatalities or major injuries had been reported, according to the Burlington Free Press.The show, billed as Phish’s final concert, started Saturday and continues today. – Reid Williams, the Associated Press and the Burlington Free Press contributed to this report.

Support Local Journalism