Bull rider dies from injuries sustained while bull riding

Timpson, TX (KTRE) - Josh Griffin, 27, of Garrison died from injuries he received Sunday afternoon at a bull riding practice held at the Timpson Rodeo Arena. Griffin lost his grip on the bull, causing him to slide under the animal and take a fall to the ground. Griffin was stepped on by the bull's hind hooves, according to  Shelby County Sheriff Newton Johnson.  An air medical unit from Lufkin was dispatched to the scene and Mr. Griffin was transported by helicopter to Good Sheppard Hospital in Longview, Texas. The Shelby County Sheriff's office learned that Mr. Griffin passed away at 5:46 p.m. later that day.

"Josh was wearing a helmet and protective gear during his ride," said Chet Strain, Griffin's pastor and a former bull rider who witnessed the accident. "He rode the bull, but one leg of the animal caught on Josh's chest. Josh has a small frame, so maybe the hoof caught him outside the vest," said Strain.

Griffin will be remembered for his devotion to the sport of bull riding. He began riding bulls at age 16 after sneaking in a ride without his parent's permission. They wouldn't have approved because Josh had a brain tumor removed when he was 11 months old. And at age 14, Griffin had a bad accident on a horse that left him in a coma for 11 days, later requiring over 20 surgeries. Nevertheless, griffin stayed with bull riding.

Griffin learned the sport by interning with famed rodeo producer Neal Gay in Mesquite, Texas. Griffin won the Crockett PRCA Rodeo in 2003 and qualified for the Texas Circuit Finals, but an injury prevented him from competing.

Strain describes Josh as a "true cowboy." "In bull riding circles that's a man who works hard, gives no excuses and loves to rodeo," explained Strain.  "I never knew Josh's prior medical conditions until I spoke with his mom the other day in preparation for the funeral. He never used any of that as an excuse. He was even blind in one eye and had little peripheral vision. Never knew it. He rode those bulls by feel and the love of doing it."

Griffin "lived for bull riding," said friend Anita Scott. "Josh would work the chutes for us frequently at bull riding competitions. He was a great person," said Bill Plunkett, Nacogdoches County Exposition Center manager. "If there were bulls in the pens, he was ready to ride them," said Plunkett.

Josh's bull riding career had been placed on hold, but recently he began conditioning himself for the sport again. "He was beginning to build his career again by competing in the lower level events," said Strain. Griffin died during a practice attended by several bull riders. "Josh would also help me out in my ministry with kids. He helped work the chutes during a recent clinic put on for young boys. And during those ministries, Josh found Christ," shared Strain.

Visitation for East Texas bull rider Josh Griffin is Tuesday, Feb. 3 at Holly Springs Baptist Church. Griffin's funeral will be Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the same church with Rev. Chet Strain of Jubilee Christian Church and Rev. Homer Murray of Holly Springs Baptist Church officiating. Burial will be in Libby Cemetery.   Donations can be made to the Libby Cemetery Fund.