A 16-year-old who died while bull riding at the Newport Rodeo Saturday knew the dangers of being a cowboy.
On a Web site Anthony “Stoney” Covington designed as a 13-year-old, he wrote about his hero, Lane Frost, a professional rodeo cowboy who died in 1990 while competing, and also wrote about his own close call in the ring.
“I have had some hard times with rodeo,” he wrote. Once, he was bucked off a steer, and when he hit the ground, the steer nicked his head. “I got up really fast and my eyes were really big,” he wrote.
Covington’s fall Saturday was too hard. With a crowd of 3,800 watching at the Newport Rodeo Arena, Covington was bucked off a bull. He fell forward and his head connected with the bull’s. After he fell unconscious to the ground, the bull stamped on his chest.
He was pronounced dead during a helicopter flight to Spokane.
Denise Covington, Anthony’s grandmother who lived with and took care of him, said the community of Nespelem, where he lived, has come together to show their sadness for the high school rodeo star. Covington was a few weeks away from competing in the National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyo.
“There’s just too many things to remember him by,” she tearfully said. “He had the kindest heart; he never fought; he always looked for the good in everybody.”
A rosary service will take place tonight at 7 in the Nespelem Community Center, and the funeral will follow Friday at 10 a.m. at the same location.
Deaths in rodeos are rare, said Al Earl, the president of the Professional Western Rodeo Association, which holds events in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia. The Newport Rodeo was one in which cowboys earn points in a circuit of events throughout the spring and summer. He said deaths occur once every few years, and he could not remember anybody having died in the Pro-West circuit. Ann Swenson, whose husband, John Swenson, helped organize the Newport event, said she does not recall anyone ever dying at the Newport Rodeo.
The bull that bucked Covington will probably return to use in rodeos again, Earl said. The animal did not show signs of being intentionally vicious, he said.
There are no state regulations that govern rodeos, Earl said. The Pro-West rodeo organization has its own rules, which dictate at least one ambulance must be on scene at every event. The Newport Rodeo had two ambulances and several paramedics on hand.
Riders under 18 are allowed to participate as long as they and their parents or guardians sign a waiver. Covington’s grandmother Denise signed a waiver before the Newport Rodeo.
Covington was wearing a Kevlar vest at the time of his accident, but no helmet.
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