J.D. Jones, an up-and-coming bronco rider, was killed Saturday night after being critically injured by his horse during the Indian National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Rodeo officials said Jones, a 25-year-old Missouri native, got his foot stuck in his horse’s stirrup and was unable to detangle it when his horse apparently kicked him in the head and fell on him. Jones was rushed to hospital, but died shortly after arrival, according to the police. His horse also sustained serious injuries and was euthanized for internal bleeding and a broken pelvis, rodeo spokeswoman Perse Hooper said.
This was Jones’ first time competing in the national “saddle bronc” finals, according to Hooper. The “saddle bronc” event, during which cowboys attempt to stay on a bucking horse for eight seconds, is an event for which Jones had showed great talent in previous rodeos. Jones was in fourth place before he was thrown from the horse.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of J.D. at this difficult time,” rodeo officials said in a statement. “J.D. was a favorite of the rodeo because of his passion and respect of the sport and he died doing something he loved.”
The event is similar to bull riding, which is described by National Geographic as “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.” Though there are only one or two deaths on average every year from U.S. professional rodeo circuits, many more riders suffer serious brain or spinal injuries, according to the World Health Organization’s Helmet Initiative.
Riders are not required to wear helmets, and it is unconfirmed whether or not Jones had one on, or if it would have prevented his critical injuries.
Jones leaves behind a fiance and an 11-month-old son.