Boy, 14, Knocked Unconscious After Bull Riding Fall

ROBBINSDALE, Minn. (WCCO) — From the time he was a baby, Sam Bell has been attracted to horses and the cowboy way of life. His father, Roy Bell, recalls cradling his son in his arms while galloping along on a horse.

“He grew up on a ranch and that’s always been his dream. His passion was to be a cowboy,” said Roy.

That passion for rodeo and riding bucking broncos and wild bulls brought 14-year-old Sam success at his young age. For the past three years Sam has reigned as Minnesota’s state bull riding champion in the wrangler division. This year, he began competing in high school rodeo competitions.

“The caliber, the way he rides, he rides as good as any of the pro-riders for his age group,” said Katie Pitzen, his sister.

But that cowboy luck changed on Saturday night while Bell was competing in a rodeo competition in his hometown of Nimrod, just north of Wadena.

While attempting his eight second ride on a 1,600-pound bull, Sam was tossed violently to the ground. He landed flat on his back, striking his head.

Despite wearing a helmet and an armored vest, Sam was knocked unconscious. He was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale where he remained in a coma.

“Bruising on his brain, and that’s what’s prevented him from coming to,” said Roy Bell. His son has brain contusions as well as some broken ribs. But the family is optimistic as Sam is moving around in his bed and the tube that was draining fluid from one lung was able to be removed.

One glance at the belt buckles worn by his dad and sister tells you that rodeo is a family affair. Just last week, Sam performed at the Minnesota State Fair and then traveled to an event in Superior, Wis.

Even when he’s not competing or practicing his bull riding, you’ll find Sam riding a horse.

“He just loves it, breaking and training and being a cowboy,” says Sam’s mother, Avis Estabrooks.

But she admits after this scare, roping calves and riding broncos and bulls will bring new apprehensions. Until then, this ride will be a test of patience and prayers for family and friends.

“It’s like any other sport. Anybody can get hurt and his passion is rodeo and I’m sure he’ll be back at it when he’s physically able to again,” she said

Estabrooks said it’s helpful to see so many well-wishes written on Sam’s Caring Bridge website.

“Their thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated,” Estabrooks said.

To help defray the medical costs a fund has been set up. Donations to the Sam Bell fund can be sent to the 1st National Bank of Menahga & Sebeka, P.O. Box 311, Sebeka, MN 56477.

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Comments

One Comment

  1. John says:

    Anyone outside of rodeo probably can’t understand the risk a cowboy takes, well rodeo is a way of life not a hobby. Our prayers are with Sam. Go get’em Cowboy.

    1. Brittany Lynn Mead says:

      John you are oh so correct.
      To all the people who don’t understand the sport, you were obviously not raised anywhere near a farm or the ranching and country, rodeoing life style! To you it may be showing off and unnecessary, but to all of us who grew up around it and live and breathe the farming, ranching, country, and rodeo life style, it is an art form! You see football, baseball, hockey, volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics, golf, etc. sports. To us, those are all fine and great, but there is minimal risk in those sports, to us the risk is worth the rush we get when riding, whether it be bulls, broncs, or just a leisurely trail ride on horse back. The risk is also worth the reward, when you ride hard and make your goal in rodeo, it’s a dream come true. So for all of you who find this a ridiculous sport, and that think the parents are not taking care of there son properly, think again. One thing you need to know is that if you were raised in farming, ranching, country rodeo style that we were, you would understand, if you were not, than you have no place to be commenting on this subject. For anyone who knows Sam Bell , you know that whether his mom liked it or not, he would still be riding bulls, and doing what he loves! He is a true Cowboy, and all of us here at home are praying for a speedy recovery so that he can come home and continue life the way he enjoys it. So next time you want to comment about how the Bull feels, stop and think that there is a 14 year old boy in a hospital and the only thing we should care about right now is him getting well!! The bulls do this all the time, and are raised to do so. They also get to roam the pasture like any other livestock.

  2. Ice Pony Girl says:

    Reiki sent to your son {{{HUGS}}}

  3. Carrie Zombie-Killer Van Wert says:

    Cowboy up Sam, cowboy up. You’ll pull through to ride another day!

  4. JackieM says:

    Prayers are with him. Hope he has a full recovery! It’s a passion. Take care…

  5. Stephney says:

    Hope i get to see you at school soon sam! i miss seeing your face around! Pull threw Bud!🙂

  6. Carla says:

    Wow Charles, I feel bad for you. You have a mean heart and a closed mind. If you knew Sam you would have a different perspective. I cant even be upset about your comment because I just feel bad for you that you could really say such an assinine statement when family is hurting. I respect parents like Roy and Avis who allow their children to chase their passion. Sam knows the risks and has more talent then most adults in the sport. Sam is doing great my prayers tonight will include you.

    1. amanda says:

      how could you even say that about a child? You have no right posting on here if you are going to be making stupid immature comments. You are a cold hearted person.

  7. Lauranna says:

    Hang in there Sam! MY prayers have been with you since Saturday night! I really enjoy watching your talent!!!

  8. Get well Sam says:

    Sam is in the best possible places for care. The Doctors and nurses there are on the top of the medical chain. I know from having a daughter with a stroke admitted there.

  9. Britany says:

    SAM! you can do it buddy.! we all pray for you!! we love you!! your such a strong willed boy!! i’ll be waiting to see you at the next football game or basketball game.! i miss you buddy!! take care!!

  10. GN says:

    After more than a dozen broken bones and replacement parts to keep moving I still long to be breaking horses and the thrills of competing in Rodeo. Sam you have a long way to go in life so get better, were pulling for you. The rodeo folks from Southwest Minnesota.

  11. Sandie says:

    My prayers are with you and your family

  12. Lisa Erickson says:

    Although in a coma, his brain is still active in different regions. Talk and read to him. It can’t hurt him. Keep talking, talking and talking. Be supportive – the brain is amazing. Sam is amazing.

    Sending positive, healing energy to all of you.

  13. Lauranna says:

    Still thinking of you Sam! 24 hours a day!!! Stay strong!!!! I know there are alot of people with you on their mind!! And as for the people writing immature things on here grow up…… We all love you Sam!!!! And your true friends know that rodeo is our life and thats how we live it!

  14. Bonnie Hammond says:

    Avis and family: Our prayers go out to your Sam and all of you.

  15. Linda Snyder says:

    Sam, Roy, Tami and Avis,
    You are in our thoughts and prayers. Keep thinking positive. Horses are a part of life for us.

  16. Selma says:

    Abusing animals is a way of life in the rodeo. Just because you’ve been doing it for years doesn’t make it right. Dragging a poor calf across an arena by the next is not “sport”, it’s torture. I pray that this boy is okay and recovering well. Howeer, some of the actiities (not all) in rodeo needs to stop. Bull fighting in spain is a way of life, doesn’t make that right. Dog fighting for some is a way of life, doesn’t make it right and finally, child abuse to some are a way of life, DOES NOT MAKE IT OKAY.

    1. Selma says:

      i meant to say “dragging a poor calf across an arena by the neck is not a “sport”.

  17. Selma says:

    Abusing animals is a way of life in the rodeo. Just because you’ve been doing it for years doesn’t make it right. Dragging a poor calf across an arena by the neck is not “sport”, it’s torture. I pray that this boy is okay and recovering well. Howeer, some of the actiities (not all) in rodeo needs to stop. Bull fighting in spain is a way of life, doesn’t make that right. Dog fighting for some is a way of life, doesn’t make it right and finally, child abuse to some are a way of life, DOES NOT MAKE IT OKAY.

  18. Selma says:

    Let me add that this boy is under 18. If he can’t vote or drive, WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU LET HIM RIDE A BULL?!?!?!?

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