RIP Blue Stone: Bull rider’s death age 43 prompts heartfelt tributes

Bruno Cooke March 14, 2022
RIP Blue Stone: Bull rider’s death age 43 prompts heartfelt tributes
Photo by Chris Elise/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Bull rider Blue Stone, from Ogden, Utah, died on Sunday (13 March 2022), prompting heartfelt tributes from his colleagues in the sport.

Bull rider Blue Stone passes away age 43

Born 26 May 1978 in Ogden, Utah, Blue Stone was World Champion Bull Rider in 2001 and 2002.

He was 43 when he died on 13 March 2022 in Willard, Utah, not far from where he was born. 

Blue leaves wife Misty and son Rowdy. He was in his early 20s when he earned his first world championship – he earned almost $175K in 2001, beating Cody Hancock by a thin margin.

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The following year, he performed similarly well. But he only appeared at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) twice.

Blue Stone appeared on the front cover of Pro-Rodeo Sports News’ 6 February 2002 edition. It ran with the title, “Blue Who? Bull rider Blue Stone takes an improbable leap”.

Tributes follow Blue’s death

Fellow bull rider Fred Boettcher told ProRodeo that Blue Stone was “the coolest cat”.

“He didn’t brag.  When I showed up at the NFR in 2001, I didn’t even know who he was, and he kicked all our butts.”

Blue’s death is particularly hard-hitting for Boettcher, since they are of a similar age. Per his LinkedIn profile, Fred Boettcher is the bull riding director for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

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Photo by Jesse Beals /Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

Myron Duarte, a now-retired bull rider from Hilmar, California, told ProRodeo that Blue “would do anything for anybody”.

“He was truly a cowboy”, he added, “and part of the big rodeo family. He was a person who made rodeo better for the generations we see today.”

How dangerous is bull riding?

Several studies point to bull riding as one of the most dangerous sports in the world – and one that it’s hard to temper the dangerousness of. 

Variously described as “one of the most stubbornly dangerous sports in the world”, riding “an angry, bucking, 900-kilogram bull” can sometimes prove “deadly”.

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According to one study’s injury classification system (severe, minor, or other), “36% of injuries to bull riders were severe”.

“Fractures were the most common severe injury. Concussions constituted 10.6% of all injuries; neck injuries and concussion with other head and facial injuries accounted for 28.9%. About half (48%) of injuries were minor.”

However, it is not clear at this stage whether or not Blue Stone’s cause of death was directly linked to his career as a bull rider.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.