Thursday, Dec. 3, 1998 | 3:49 a.m.
Thad Bothwell, a bull rider from Rapid City, S.D., who had qualified for his first National Finals Rodeo this year, suffered a broken back in a plane crash and will not be among the top 15 bull riders in Las Vegas this month.
Bothwell was one of four highly ranked professional rodeo cowboys injured when a plane they were flying in crashed Nov. 4 near Lodi, Calif.
Four-time world bareback riding champion Marvin Garrett, saddle bronc rider Scott Johnston, former world champion bareback rider Mark Garrett and Bothwell were en route to the Grand National Rodeo in San Francisco when their plane's engine died just prior to landing at Lodi Airport.
Bothwell, 30, suffered a broken back and underwent surgery Nov. 11 to fuse two vertebrae and remove a disk. Marvin Garrett suffered a fractured vertebrae and broken right arm in the crash; Johnston suffered serious internal injuries; and Mark Garrett received lacerations to the head.
Mark Garrett, Marvin's brother, was the least seriously injured passenger. He was credited with pulling some of the others from the burning plane.
The pilot, retired rodeo cowboy Johnny Morris, suffered a broken back and serious burns on 40 percent of his body. He remained at the UC Davis Medical Center after undergoing surgery and skin grafts.
Bothwell had qualified for the NFR by finishing the regular season ranked eighth in the PRCA bull riding world standings with $55,030 in earnings.
A fund has been established to help cover the cowboys' medical expense. Donations can be made to Auburn National Bank, c/o Auburn Stampede Cowboy Trust Fund, P.O. Box 5335, Auburn, Calif., 95604.
Bareback rider James Boudreaux broke the small bone above his left ankle on Nov. 12, but still plans to compete in this year's NFR.
Boudreaux, of Cuero, Texas, injured his leg while working in the cattle pens at a ranch in his hometown. He underwent surgery Nov. 13 in Mesquite, Texas, to have a plate and screws inserted in the leg.
More bad news
Fourth-ranked bull riding qualifier Kelly Armstrong was forced to withdraw from the NFR due to a knee injury he sustained while competing in the Canadian Finals Rodeo Nov. 15.
Armstrong, who was competing in his third CFR, had dismounted a bull during the final round when his spur got caught up in his bull rope. The 22-year-old rider was pulled underneath the bull and stepped on.
He suffered severe ligament damage to his right knee; three of the four major ligaments in the knee were torn.
Guy Allen claimed his record 13th world steer roping title at the National Finals Steer Roping in October in Guthrie, Okla.
Allen's record represents the most single-event titles ever won by a competitor in PRCA history.
The 40-year-old Allen also broke his own regular-season earnings record of $66,499 just prior to the NFSR by placing in the money in 39 of the 48 rodeos in which he roped during the season.
He added another $11,205 at the final to boost his year-end earnings to $99,132 to shatter the record of $84,324 he set last year.
November proved to be a very bad month for the PRCA.
Just eight days after the plane crash that injured four cowboys, bull rider Jason Curry of Clewiston, Fla., was killed in a single-vehicle accident near LaBelle, Fla.
He was 24.
Curry died after losing control of his pickup truck on State Road 80, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Curry was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from his truck.