By Linda Cicoira — “Muddin’ at the Moose” in Belle Haven turned fatal last Saturday when a participating truck accidentally struck and killed a photographer at the annual event.
“The day was over with right then … just out of respect for him,” Patrick Long, an event coordinator and Exmore Moose Lodge member said Monday. “I called for a mandatory drivers’ meeting” and offered to give entry fees back to the drivers but the consensus was to donate the money to the victim’s family, Long said. Other donations were also accepted.
Rick Ulerick, 48, of the 6300 block of Knob Hill Drive in Virginia Beach, was identified as the victim by Sgt. Michelle Anaya of the state police. “Mr. Ulerick was actively photographing the truck race through the pit when he was accidentally struck,” she said.
It is “still an ongoing investigation that is being handled as an accidental death … the driver of the mud bog (truck) was Blake Cole Messer, 20, of Four Oaks, N.C.” He “will not be charged in the incident.”
“There was no fault by anybody,” Long said. “He was in the shutdown area where he takes pictures. It wasn’t like he was right up in harm’s way. Just a freak accident like everybody else has been saying. He took photography all up and down the East Coast … at least Virginia and North Carolina – and was very, very good at everything he did.”
Ulerick “was close with all of us in the mud racing community. All of us thought of him as family. He was a special man. He never knew a stranger,” Long continued.
“He touched so many people with what he did and his photography skills. This was his hobby. He never charged for the photos,” Long said. “He helped promote all motor sports of any kind. He enjoyed watching horsepower … dirt bikes … he really enjoyed it.”
“Everything is just so fresh on everybody’s mind,” Long continued. Another mud event is scheduled for Sept. 23, at the Moose, but it could be canceled. Moose International and the local lodge members will have to decide.
“Everybody’s feeling is we’d like to do more – take even more safety measures,” said Long. “At this time it is unknown if the events will be able to continue … you can put in every safety measure, you can’t prevent everything unfortunately,” the coordinator said. “The safety measures that we have in place did the job” so the truck didn’t go “out to the crowd. It was a very safe layout. Everybody is way away from the track.”
Ulerick’s Facebook page had photos of trucks on April 14 that were going to race and people were sharing their condolences there. Dennis Anderson’s Muddy Motorsports Park in North Carorlina is dedicating the mudding event on April 29 to Ulerick.
Long said the local mud bog was started in September 2014 and was held twice annually ever since. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, the races were held at the Tasley Fairgrounds. “All who race do it for our own enjoyment and thrill of little kids cheering and clapping,” Long said. He hoped the cloud of dirt kept the children from seeing the accident.
“We had people from Pennsylvania, Richmond to North Carolina. We travel across the Bay and race too. Not like monster trucks on TV but similar,” he said.