Brattleboro couple killed in car crash announced their engagement six months ago

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Editor's Note: This story was updated at 4:55 p.m. to include additional quotes from Nancy Heydinger.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 4 p.m. to include a quote from the Greenfield, Mass., Recreation Department.

BRATTLEBORO — A man and woman who died of their injuries sustained in a car crash on Route 30 in Newfane on Friday afternoon had been engaged since Dec. 23, 2017, according to their Facebook pages.

Rob Lind, 32, of Brattleboro, was pronounced dead on the scene of the crash, which occurred at 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of Sears Road.

His fiance, Mandi Marie Gamache, 26, also of Brattleboro, was airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., but died on Saturday.

Lind, a well-known and well-liked runner, was a Sodexo employee working at the Brattleboro Retreat. Gamache was a group leader in the after-school program at Federal Street School in Greenfield, Mass.

"We’re heartbroken," said Konstantin von Krusenstiern, Vice President for Development and Communications at the Retreat. "Rob touched so many at the Retreat and his passing is a shock to us. Rob worked in our housekeeping department. He was very kind and always available to lend a helping hand. He was known for his distinct blue eyes, warm smile, and for his impressive accomplishments as a runner — he went above and beyond in everything he did. Rob was truly a wonderful soul and we are greatly saddened by this senseless tragedy."

"It is with a heavy heart to hear of such tragic news," said Christy Moore the Recreation Director for the Greenfield, Mass., Recreation Department, which sponsors the after-school program. "She engaged with our students in outdoor games and activities but it was with arts and crafts projects Mandi shined her brightest. She loved making projects with the students. She was always eager to lend a hand to help in any way. Mandi truly had a gift to share with others. Her kindness and smile will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with her family."

Lind was a "natural" runner, according to radio personality, Peter "Fish" Case. Lind participated often in foot races in and around the Brattleboro region, and in 2017, Lind ran in the Boston Marathon, with a time of 3:27:02.

"Rob was a humble kind soul, he always had words of encouragement for others," said Case. "Whenever you saw Rob, he always had a smile for you. He will be missed."

"He was so fast," said Nancy Heydinger, of Vernon. "But that is not at all what was so special about him. He was a beautiful person, full of love and joy, always open, playful, smiling and encouraging."

Heydinger, who is executive director of Girls on the Run, a program that is meant to empower girls in grades three through eight, said she often trained with Lind.

"He chased me around the track on Tuesday mornings, taunting me, 'Go faster Nancy, go faster.' I’d go as fast as I could and tell him to 'Cut it out, Rob, I’m going to get hurt.' And then I’d would go faster and then he’d fly by me and we both started laughing. This happened every time we ran together."

Heydinger said Lind volunteered each year to help set up the the 5k race that ends the Girls on the Run 10-week program.

"Like an energizer bunny, he buzzed all over helping with event set up, then sprinted along the course encouraging the girls to stay strong, then back to the finish line to join the break down crew, always with a huge grin on his face."

Heydinger said she and her daughter, Caroline, are devastated by the death of Lind.

"You had to smile when you were around Rob. He was genuine and loving to everyone who knew him. We will both miss him so much, as will the Brattleboro community."

According to a published list, Lind graduated from Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, Mass., in 2005. According to a published list, Gamache was a 2010 graduate of Keene, N.H., High School.

At 4:30 on Friday afternoon, Lind and Gamache were traveling south on Route 30 in Lind's 1999 Subaru Hatchback when a vehicle being driven north by Sarah Loos, 26, of Bondville, crossed the centerline and hit Lind's vehicle head on, according to a press release from the Vermont State Police.

Loos was transported to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital where she was treated for minor injuries to her right arm.

During the investigation, troopers with the Vermont State Police obtained a search warrant to collect blood from Loos, who was cited with grossly negligent operation resulting in a death. She was also cited with driving under the influence of drugs, according to police.

Loos' court date to answer the charges has not yet been scheduled.

Anyone who may have witnessed the accident, or the events leading up to it, is encouraged to contact Trooper Max Trenosky at 802-722-4600.

Vermont State Police were assisted by the NewBrook Fire & Rescue, Rescue Inc., and the Brattleboro Police Department.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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