A 14-year-old boy died after he rode a bull at a rodeo for the first time in his life and went into cardiac arrest, officials and his family said.
The rider, whom the event organizers identified on Facebook as Denim Bradshaw, died after having ridden a bull at the Rafter K. Rodeo Winter Series at American Legion Post 290 in King, North Carolina, on Saturday, officials said.
His sister wrote on a GoFundMe page for his funeral expenses that it was the first bull he had ever ridden at a rodeo.
Emergency personnel responded to a call for cardiac arrest around 8:24 p.m. local time, Stokes County Emergency Services Director Brandon Gentry told NBC affiliate WRAL of Raleigh. Denim was riding a bull when he experienced cardiac arrest, and he died later at the hospital, Gentry said.
It remained unclear what prompted the health emergency.
“This is a tragic event and words cannot describe the pain felt by this loss,” Rafter K. Rodeo Co. wrote on Facebook.
Denim’s mother, Shannon Bowman, shared her heartbreak on Facebook on Sunday.
“Last night was the longest night of my life!!” she wrote. “My beautiful handsome 14 year old son had went to be with the lord! I awoke in a nightmare for the rest of my life!
“I hate myself for this call but he was loving every second of it I never seen him so happy as I had seen him last night before his departure.
“Denim baby you did it!!” she continued. “You did that!! I’m so proud of your braveness and your courage! My lil cowboy I will love and miss you so much and I know God will take care of you.”
A GoFundMe page that appears to have been set up by his sister, Persephone Bowman, shared more details about his life, including his dream of becoming a police officer.
“Denim adventured into the world of bull riding and fell in love. The boots, the cowboy hats, and those big belt buckles-- he loved it all,” his sister wrote.
“He got to ride his first bull on January 28th, and his excitement was palpable. None of us could believe that this first ride would cause his death, and we are beyond devastated. Our sweet 14 year old boy lost his life during what was the most exciting moment of his short life, and we are now lost without him.”