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  • Paul Cooley


Painted Pony Championship Rodeo, stock contractors for the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department’s annual rodeo, suffered a tragic loss this past week when a long-time employee and rodeo foreman was killed in a vehicle crash in Birmingham, Alabama.

David Wibert, 40, was hauling a trailer load of bucking bulls from a PBR event in Texas and was planning to stop in Tennessee to visit with family when an SUV crossed the median and struck Wibert’s truck, causing it to go into a ravine. Wibert was pronounced dead at the scene. According to a Birmingham police spokesman Lt. Sean Edwards, the driver of the SUV was taken into custody and that they believe alcohol was involved.

The eight bulls in the trailer were checked out by veterinary personnel and were found to be uninjured despite the severity of the accident.

Wibert had worked for Painted Pony Rodeo owners Shawn and Shana Graham for eight years and was in charge of much of their operations. Shana Graham says, “He was our rock, the glue that held the puzzle together and was especially loved as a dear friend to us and our three children”.

Although much of Wibirt’s work in helping to produce the rodeo was done behind the scenes, Gerry rodeo fans will remember him as the “pick-up” man whose job in the arena was to rescue cowboys after their rides in the saddle and bareback bronc events.

The funeral was held Sunday in Elmira, N.Y., with Gerry rodeo chairman Tom Atwell and his assistant Dave Hall and other members of the Gerry community attending. Atwell says, “ Wibert was more than someone to work with at rodeo time, but that he had become a close friend.” He added, “All of us who worked with him in Gerry will sorely miss him when rodeo time comes in August.”

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