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Rodeo: Bull rider Tag Elliott continues amazing comeback
Rodeo » Five years after a bull nearly killed him, Tag Elliott is one of the world’s best riders.
First Published Jul 18 2012 12:04 pm • Last Updated Oct 30 2012 11:32 pm

It’s like watching film of a historic, long-ago event that has been seared into the memory.

When you Google Tag Elliott’s near-fatal bull ride in 2007 at the Days of ’47 Rodeo, you want to somehow freeze the video, streak back in time and alter history.

At a glance

The Tag Elliott File

Event » Bull riding

Born » July 22, 1988 in Brigham City

Current residence » Thatcher, Utah

Career earnings » $148,566

College » Southern Idaho (equine studies)

Career » Won Extreme Bulls (Division 2) at Austin and Pocatello this season. … Placed 30th in the 2011 world standings with earnings of $34,155. … In 2010, earned $50,680 and placed 28th in the world after winning at San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; San Dimas, Calif.; Grace, Idaho; and Herriman, Utah. … Missed 2008 season and participated on a limited basis in 2009 after being severely injured at the 2007 Days of ’47 Rodeo. … Utah state high school champion in 2006.

Personal » Single. … His father, Steve, was a professional bareback and bull rider. … His brother, Zach, is a bull rider who finished 33rd in the 2009 world standings. … Graduated from Bear River High School, where he wrestled, qualifying for the state meet four times. … Enjoys hunting and helping work the family cattle ranch. … Favorite movies: Clint Eastwood Westerns.

This week’s PRCA rodeos in Utah:

Days of ‘47 Rodeo » 7 p.m.

June 19, 20, 21, 23, 24

Maverik Center, West Valley City

3200 S. Decker Lake Drive

Pioneer Days Rodeo » 7:30 p.m.

June 19, 20, 21, 23, 24

Pioneer Stadium, Ogden

668 17th Street

Fiesta Days Rodeo » 8 p.m.

June 20, 21, 23, 24

Fairgrounds, Spanish Fork

475 South Main Street

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Nobody deserves what happened to Elliott, a good-natured teenager from Thatcher, Utah, who had just embarked on his dream of being a professional rodeo cowboy.

In an instant, however, Elliott’s world changed.

He was so badly injured that those who first reached him feared he might not make it to the hospital.

Wouldn’t it be something if Elliott qualified for this year’s National Finals Rodeo?

Five years ago, the Days of ’47 Rodeo started well enough for young Tag Elliott, who drew a monstrous white bull named Werewolf.

Bull riders love to climb aboard the top animals in the sport because the bull’s ability and reputation gives them the best chance to impress the judges and post a high score, which translates into bigger paychecks.

One year earlier, an up-and-coming cowboy named J.W. Harris, who would eventually become a three-time world champion, scored a 96 aboard Werewolf at the Reno Xtreme Bulls competition.

So, just two days after his 19th birthday, Elliott seemed positioned to continue an outstanding rookie season on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association tour.

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Then, chute No. 2 at EnergySolutions Arena sprang open.

In one powerful stride, Werewolf gathered himself and leaped high into the air, throwing Elliott off balance. When the bull hit the ground, Elliott lurched forward, just as Werewolf threw his head back. The result was a violent head-to-horn collision that shattered the right side of Elliott’s face.

The crowd fell silent. Bull fighters and medical personnel rushed forward. After crashing to the ground, Elliott didn’t move.

Chris Higham, a ambulance driver who wasn’t on duty that night, saw what happened and instinctively ran to the floor of the arena to see if he could help.

A co-worker who was working the rodeo saw Higham and tossed him the keys to the ambulance.

"He told me to go get it — quick — because they were going to need it," Higham said.

Elliott’s situation was perilous.

"I don’t think many people — right then — thought he was going to make it," Higham said. "To this day, I haven’t seen anything that bad."

After emergency first-aid was administered, Elliott was gently placed into the ambulance, which Higham drove to LDS Hospital.

"It was pretty gut-wrenching," Higham said. "I remember, when we were pulling out of the arena, one of the chute bosses was off to the side — puking — because of what he’d just seen."

Elliott doesn’t remember anything about the incident and has only scattered memories of the hours leading up to it.

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