Last month, the rodeo world was shocked upon hearing alarming news about eight-time world champion team roping heeler Rich Skelton, who had been seriously injured in a road accident near his home in Llano.
When Skelton was injured on May 15, he had just completed teaching a roping clinic in Llano and he was driving home.
But Skelton, 49, a native of Fort Worth who mostly grew up at Electra, is on the mend and is expected to return to the PRCA circuit this month. Skelton, who partners with 2009 world heading champion Nick Sartain, said he is planning on competing in the June 19-27 Reno (Nev.) Rodeo, which is the first major show of the summer.
According to a report in the Llano County News, a truck pulling a livestock trailer was unable to slow down and rear-ended a passenger vehicle, slamming it into the rear of the tractor that Skelton was driving. He was ejected through the top of the canopy on the tractor as it was knocked on its side.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
News reports from the Llano newspaper and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association contained alarming descriptions such as “Skelton was located about 25 feet from the tractor and was airlifted to an Austin, Texas-area hospital for treatment” and “Skelton’s family reported on Facebook that he is awake, the ventilator has been removed and he is breathing on his own in the intensive care unit.”
“My recovery, everything seems to be coming along as good as you can ask for,” Skelton said. “I was very lucky to come out of it no more banged up than what I was.”
Skelton suffered bruises on his liver, spleen and heart. Medical officials also initially found blood on his brain. However, Skelton received favorable results when he underwent a CAT scan about two weeks ago, he said.
“They said all of that [blood on the brain] was gone, and that was a main concern,” Skelton said.
In an interview Monday, Skelton, who currently is ranked ninth in the PRCA’s 2015 heeling world standings with $26,090 in regular season earnings, said he began practicing roping again last week.
“I roped one [steer], one day, and then I roped two or three on another day,” he said. “But this [Monday] morning, I probably roped 10. I’m sore and I get tired in the afternoon, but it doesn’t hurt my ribs to actually rope, and that’s the cool thing.”
Honoring a legend
This week’s Johnson County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo in Cleburne will honor the late former world champion bullfighter Greg Rumohr.
Fans who attend Thursday’s performance are encouraged to wear red to honor Rumohr, who was from Rio Vista. Rumohr, the 1990 world champion freestyle bullfighter, died May 11 when a piece of heavy equipment he was delivering to a ranch in Cranfills Gap fell on him. He was 53.
In the money
Steer wrestler Jace Melvin will enter next week’s College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., on a high note.
Melvin, who will represent Tarleton State, placed at two PRCA shows last weekend. He won the title in Silver City, N.M., and finished second in Clovis, N.M.
According to the PRCA, his total earnings were $2,703. Melvin is the son of former National Finals Rodeo qualifier Marty Melvin.