Craig cowboy in Denver hospital

Hertzog in critical condition after rodeo accident

Brandon Johnson

HAYDEN — A Craig man involved in a rodeo accident Sunday remained in critical condition Monday at a Denver hospital.

Wes Hertzog, 53, was thrown from a horse during the saddle bronc competition Sunday at the Routt County Fair and Rodeo in Hayden.

Hertzog was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs after the accident, which occurred at about 1:15 p.m.

He later was flown by Flight for Life to Denver Health Med-ical Center, where he was in critical condition Monday afternoon, said Estella Juarez, public information representative at the hospital.

Hertzog’s condition was listed as serious Monday morning, but it worsened to critical by Monday afternoon.

Hertzog’s brother, Bill Hert-zog, said Monday morning that his brother was unconscious, had a broken neck and was on a ventilator. Bill drove to Denver from his home in Grand Junction late Sunday night to be with his brother.

On Monday afternoon, Bill Hertzog said his brother had moved his legs but remained unconscious.

“He’s not in very good shape,” Bill Hertzog said. “We have high hopes that he will wake up, we just don’t know when. We hope that he wakes up, and we’ll go from there.”

Wes Hertzog has been competing in rodeos for more than 40 years. He has won the saddle bronc riding series title at the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series on at least three occasions. At last month’s Ride-N-Tie Rodeo in Craig, he said his first competition was at the Moffat County Fairgrounds in 1964.

Bill Hertzog said Wes has been in rodeo accidents before.

“Maybe not this bad, but he has been hurt before,” he said.

Kent From, a judge during Sunday’s rodeo, said that in the past 15 years, he never has seen Hertzog take a fall like he did Sunday.

From said it looked as if Hertzog snapped his neck and blacked out before he was thrown from the horse.

“When he went off the left side of the horse, he didn’t even try to protect himself,” From said. “Usually, he’s experienced enough to break his fall or even prevent the fall.”

Hertzog was one of 10 competitors in the fair event, started four years ago in memory of the late Bobby Robinson, a Hayden resident and longtime bronc rider. Hertzog won the first event in 2002.

Contestants ride horses provided by a stock contractor.

On Sunday, Hertzog was the sixth contestant to ride in the competition, which continued after he was transported to the hospital, said Jill Altman, Fair Board coordinator.

“We talked about it with the riders and event coordinator. … The show goes on — Wes would’ve wanted it that way,” she said.

The event is not sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, but all riders were current or past members of the PRCA or the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association, said Brett Brooks, who coordinated the event and chose the contestants.

Cowboys earn PRCA cards after winning a certain amount of money in PRCA-sanctioned events, such as the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series.

Hertzog also counts a PRCA Rookie of the Year, earned in the early 1970s and five Senior Pro Saddle Championships among his titles, Brooks said.

Bronc riding, like all sports, is dangerous, he said.

“Any time you walk out onto the field, there’s a chance of getting hurt, and you never know how bad it’s going to be,” Brooks said.

Altman, who has been involved in the fair since 1995, said she cannot remember the last time someone was seriously injured in a fair event.

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