An eleven-year-old boy was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver following a steer-riding accident at Chilliwack Fair Saturday night.
Fair organizers said it was not clear whether the boy, who was riding in the under-15 event, was trapped between the steer and the metal fence, or whether the steer trampled on him after he fell off. His femur was broken just below the hip and was operated on Sunday morning.
The child, who lives in Quesnel, was released from hospital and flew home Wednesday.
A concerned spectator, who didn’t want her name published, was sitting in the grandstand when the accident occurred. She said the steer came out of the gates and instead of veering left towards the rodeo clowns, like the others had, it veered right.
“There was nobody to the right of the gates,” she told The Progress. “The bull came out and hit the fence. The kid was between the bucking bull and the metal fence.”
The woman believed the accident could have been prevented.
“There should have been a clown to the right, but they were all to the left,” she said.
“It was just tragic and in front of so many people. My heart goes out to the boy and his family.”
The event was immediately halted.
Fire and Rescue were called out as was a medevac helicopter. Horses and other animals were relocated from the infield at Heritage Park where the medevac landed.
St. John’s Ambulance stabilized the child for “10 to 15 minutes” inside the arena while awaiting the air ambulance.
The rodeo resumed after the boy was airlifted.
Chilliwack Fair coordinator Nancy Spratt said the incident didn’t put a damper on the event.
“It was handled quickly and quietly,” she said. “The airlift itself took place behind the scenes … and it went together pretty flawlessly to get the kid to Children’s as soon as possible.”
Spratt has received several calls from concerned people who witnessed the accident, but has not received any negative comments regarding the rodeo itself.
“Rodeo is a dangerous sport,” she said. “When rodeo competitors take up the sport, the risks are already known to them. In terms of children competing, the risks are known to their parents, and it’s the responsibility of the parent to decide whether or not they want their children to participate in higher risk activities.”