Vandal digs up Oxbow soccer field, causes costly damage

By FRANCES MIZE

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 11-22-2023 12:35 AM

BRADFORD, Vt. — On Friday night at Oxbow High School, an unidentified pickup truck went on a costly joyride.

Circles made by the car over the school’s soccer field racked up tens of thousands of dollars in damage, said Randy Gawel, superintendent of the Orange East Supervisory Union.

Video footage shows the truck turning donuts on the field for around four minutes just before midnight. “For a big pickup truck doing donuts, that’s quite a bit of time,” Gawel said.

Around 11 a.m. the next morning, Heidi Wright, the high school’s athletic director, alerted the Bradford Police Department of the ripped up field. The football, baseball and softball fields remained untouched.

For the high school of around 360 students, soccer season had already ended, giving the administration a year to restore the destroyed grass. Good thing, Gawel said, because the truck’s wheels “really dug in” to the field, which hadn’t frozen over yet.

“There are deep, deep ruts,” he said.

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The price of repairing the damage isn’t included in the budget, and the supervisory union is planning to file an insurance claim with the Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust, Gawel said.

“It’s bothersome on a number of levels, and just malicious,” he said. “There’s no reason for such a thing to happen. It’s disappointing that someone in our community would do this to something that’s a part of the community.”

Gawel hopes the damage wasn’t done by a student at the school, he wrote in an email later to the Valley News: “Oxbow and Bradford are close-knit communities, and this sort of thing just doesn’t happen. It is certainly out of character for our community.”

On Tuesday, Bradford Police Chief Russell Robinson said that he has a “strong lead” for a possible suspect.

The Police Department asks that anyone with information about the incident call 802-222-4727, ext. 209.

Frances Mize is a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at fmize@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.