Casper College Bareback Rider Survives Horrific Wreck At National Western Stock Show

Austin Broderson, a 19-year-old bareback rider and sophomore at Casper College, is recovering after enduring what many rodeo insiders are calling the worst wreck they’ve ever seen at the National Western Stock Show in Denver on Monday.

RJ
Renée Jean

January 19, 20247 min read

Casper College bareback rider Austin Broderson gives a thumbs up from a hospital bed in Denver after suffering a horrific crash riding in the National Western Stock Show Rodeo on Jan. 15, 2023.
Casper College bareback rider Austin Broderson gives a thumbs up from a hospital bed in Denver after suffering a horrific crash riding in the National Western Stock Show Rodeo on Jan. 15, 2023. (Kendra Santos via Facebook)

Prayers have been going up all over the West this week for a young Casper College cowboy whose rigging slipped while riding bareback at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, and ended in what many rodeo insiders say was the worst bareback riding wreck in recent memory.

Austin Broderson, 19, a sophomore on the Thunderbirds’ rodeo team, had put on a successful 8-second ride on Cervi Brothers Rodeo’s Jack Dupp at the show Monday.

But serious trouble began just after the buzzer sounded for this young Canadian cowboy making his pro-rodeo debut.

Broderson rides left-handed, and video of the accident shows Broderson’s rigging start to slip at the end of the ride toward his offside.

The two cowboys riding alongside as pickup men tried unsuccessfully to pull horse and rider more to the center of the arena. Simultaneously, the cowboy immediately alongside Broderson grabbed for the young man before he slid any further.

Meanwhile, Broderson had become tangled up in the rigging, and couldn’t get loose.

The other pickup man already had his rope twirling overhead to lasso and slow the horse down even as all this was taking place, but the horse was moving fast and the wild ride continued around the ring.

Broderson was slung like a rag doll by Jack Dupp and was thrown under the horse’s hind legs and hooves multiple times.

Spectators were holding their breath, and, toward the end, announcers went uncharacteristically quiet.

The Cowboy Channel camera cut away from the scene soon after that, even as dozens of cowboys from all over the arena converged on the horse and fallen rider as fast as they could. Some were drawing knives to cut the cinch to free Broderson from the horse.

Popular rodeo announcer Kendra Santos in a Facebook post the day after the accident reported that Austin had somehow, miraculously, regained consciousness while in the ambulance.

“Emergency medical staff were able to stop the bleeding on a severed artery in his arm in time,” she wrote. “I’m told by a compilation of concerned cowboys and family that Austin’s injuries are serious and significant, but he is stable. And, after seeing this for myself, that borders on beyond belief.”

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‘It’s A Miracle For Sure’

Broderson’s uncle, Braden Van Nistelrooy organized a GoFundMe to help the 19-year-old. He told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that Broderson is super tired and not quite himself, but that he’s doing really well — better than anyone could have expected.

“Anyone who’s seen the video thought that the damage would be worse than it was,” he said. “We really lucked out, he really lucked out. It’s crazy. We look at it like it’s a miracle for sure. We definitely do think he had some angels looking out for him.”

Broderson is in a Denver-area hospital and has been making improvements every day since the wreck, Nistelrooy added.

“He was able to sit up (Thursday) in a chair for a couple of hours,” he said. “That was like a big accomplishment.”

Broderson still has a lot of healing to do, though, and a long road ahead for recovery.

Broken From Head To Toe

The list of Broderson’s injuries would make anyone flinch. His body has basically been broken from his head to his feet.

The most serious concern right now is Broderson’s left arm.

A main artery on his left side was severely damaged, which cut off the blood supply to his left arm. That required immediate surgery to restore the blood flow, Nistelrooy said. Only time is going to tell whether movement will return to that arm. It may require some nerve grafting.

“It’s possible the nerves were ripped out of his spine,” he said. “So, there is some concern he might not gain function of that back, but we’re really hoping he does. That’s kind of the main concern right now.”

Broderson has a hematoma at the top of his spine, and his spinal plexus nerves have been severely damaged, leaving Broderson with little to no mobility in his left arm.

Broderson also has multiple hip fractures, broken nasal bones, several broken vertebrae, as well as many stitches and other minor injuries.

Rodeo Has Been His Life

Broderson comes from a well-known rodeo family, Nistelrooy told Cowboy State Daily.

“His dad was a bull rider,” he said. “His uncle, Marty Broderson, won the Calgary Stampede bull riding one year. They’re like a huge rodeo family.”

For Austin Broderson, rodeo has been the be all, end all, Nistelrooy said. He enjoys hunting and hockey, too, but nothing has ever compared to rodeo.

“It just kind of encompasses everything for him,” he said. “He rodeos all summer, and he rodeos all winter. I would say rodeo is his life.”

Whether Broderson will be able to return to rodeo is a big unknown this point, Nistelrooy said.

“Austin’s dad had a really bad career-ending injury on a bull,” Nistelrooy said. “So, we’re hoping Austin can get out of this unscathed.”

Still Smiling

There’s a picture of Broderson on Santos’ Facebook post that shows a battered and bruised young man holding his right thumb up with an almost smile on his face. Tubes and wires run everywhere, and monitors in the background show that vitals are being tracked constantly.

Despite all that, Broderson has been keeping himself upbeat, Nistelrooy said.

“I haven’t talked to him yet, but my sister said he’s starting to crack a few jokes and stuff like that,” he said. “He won’t admit how much pain he’s in. The nurses ask him, ‘How’s your pain?’ and he always downplays it. He’s a real trooper, he’s a real tough kid.”

GoFundMe Rapidly Rising

The GoFundMe that Nistelrooy started to help Broderson with medical bills and the long road to recovery has grown so quickly, Nistlerooy has had to increase his goal a couple of times to allow more donations.

Friday afternoon, the safety net looked to be coming in strong at $61,823 and climbing.

“He’s from Canada, and insurance is always a bit of a fickle thing,” Nistlerooy said. “We’re really hoping he’ll have full coverage for insurance, but at this point, it’s looking like we’re going to have to definitely pitch some in, too.”

Even if insurance coverage works out, Broderson is likely to have lots of needs in the future during his recovery.

“I’m not sure what’s happening with his scholarship now and his education and all that,” Nistlerooy said. “So, I’m just trying to make sure he has a nice little nest egg so he doesn’t feel like, if he can’t get back on a horse right away, that he lost everything.”

Broderson is in his second year studying business at Casper College on a scholarship for rodeo.

Austin Broderson, a 19-year-old Casper College student, comes out of the chute on Jack Dupp during a ride in the National Western Stock Show Rodeo in Denver on Jan. 15, 2023. After finishing his 8-second ride, Broderson's rigging slipped and he was drug and trampled by the horse. He survived and is recovering in a Denver hospital.
Austin Broderson, a 19-year-old Casper College student, comes out of the chute on Jack Dupp during a ride in the National Western Stock Show Rodeo in Denver on Jan. 15, 2023. After finishing his 8-second ride, Broderson's rigging slipped and he was drug and trampled by the horse. He survived and is recovering in a Denver hospital. (Rick Andersen, National Western Stock Show)

Comments Show People Praying For Miracle

Comments on the Broderson GoFundMe page show lots of love for the young cowboy, mixed in with prayers for his recovery.

“We were at the rodeo on Monday and have been praying ever since the accident,” Crystal Smith wrote. “My 6-year-old is named Austin as well, and has been praying for the cowboy Austin every day! Sending prayers and support during your recovery.”

Another wrote that she had watched the accident with her family, covering her own son’s eyes, while praying for a miracle.

“I told him they were taking you to the hospital to get better,” Allison Owen wrote. “I truly did not know what would happen. I donated because I believe it’s a combination of God and your unbelievable toughness that made me a truth teller that day. Get well and know we all respect your fight.”

Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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RJ

Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter