A Florida barrel racing rider has died just over a week after sustaining injuries in a tragic accident during a rodeo in Mississippi.
Professional barrel racer Lara Dewees, 27, had made a good run in the competition in Hattiesburg on February 20, but at the third barrel, her horse fell. While she stayed on, Dewees lost her reins. The horse got up and ran from the arena, with Dewees attempting to reach down to get the reins back.
But because of the speed, she was unable to retrieve them. The horse sped up when leaving the arena and coming out of the exit alleyway. She shouted “I need help” as the horse left the arena.
“When her horse hit the asphalt, she lost her footing, spun around and essentially pancaked, throwing Lara face-first into the asphalt,” a witness said.
The injured rider was rushed to a nearby hospital for emergency surgery after sustaining a head injury and several broken bones.
Her horse “Genny” was taken to a nearby veterinary clinic and was reported to be doing well.
Dewees had surgery to remove a blood clot from her brain and her facial bones were broken. She appeared to be improving and was making wedding plans, but sadly, she died of her injuries on February 28. Doctors believe she died due to another blood clot.
Dewees was also an online social studies teacher for the Hernando County School District. She had been riding since the age of four, and her uncle, Spunk Sasser, was a champion rodeo cowboy. Her grandfather, Harold Sasser, runs an arena in Lacoochee.
At the time of her death, she was ranked 44th this year in barrel racing earnings with the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.
More than $15,000 was raised in just six days on GoFundMe to help with Dewees’s medical expenses.
Lara Dewees is survived by her 20-month-old son, Layton, and fiance Cory Moesching, and parents Steve Dewees and Lisa Dewees-Belcher.