PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) – The rodeo community is mourning the tragic death of a student bull rider.
Eastern New Mexico University said a member of its rodeo team was crushed by a bull at Tuesday’s practice.
“To drive out here and look at the arena where it happened, it’s tough to handle,” said Macy Devenport.
The University says around 7 p.m. Tuesday Irvyng Urquijo, a 20-year-old from Springer and member of the University’s rodeo team, was practicing bull riding with his teammates when things took a turn for the worst.
Witnesses said Urquijo and the bull had just exited a shoot when the bull started to twirl.
They said the bull bucked Urquijo back into the shoot and stepped on him.
Urquijo’s coach, Albert Flinn, said the bull stepped directly on the athlete’s chest, killing him.
“When they get on they know what they’re risking, but they get on because they enjoy it,” said Flinn. “They don’t expect anything like this to happen. None of us do.”
Flinn said his athletes usually practice on a mechanical bull, but Tuesday they were able to ride real ones.
He said Urquijo was experienced and was wearing all the proper safety gear including a protective vest and mouth piece.
“It’s just an accident. A terrible accident that happened,” said Flinn.
Urquijo’s teammates are trying to cope with his death.
“It’s hard to take in. It’s hard to believe. You don’t think it’s real,” said Devenport.
The rodeo team still plans on competing this weekend, but they say they’re doing it in memory of Urquijo.
“We’re going to try and do our best for him,” said Devenport. “That’s what he would have wanted us to do.”
This is the second bull-rider from the University that has died.
In 2003, a bull stepped on and killed an 18-year-old student.