Local bull rider survives life-threatening injuries, promises to ride again

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POSTED: Friday, March 28, 2014 - 5:00am

UPDATED: Friday, March 28, 2014 - 5:04am

Jeffrey Ramagos is shrugging off life-threatening injuries, almost the same way a bull shrugged him off three weeks ago.

Ramagos, 21, is already in his 4th season as a pro, with several victories to his name.

A doctor said he was about as close to dying as a person can get after he was thrown from a bull. Now he is itching for the chance to get back on.

He was competing in a rodeo in Okeechobee, FL, the first rider on the first day of the rodeo. Just moments after the start of his ride, he hit his face on the bull's skull, sending him airborne.

"Actually, kinda remember riding a little bit," Ramagos recalled. "I don't know, it was just like everything just, everything went blank.

"I woke up and I was in the hospital."

Ramagos was flown by helicopter to the hospital. When he came to, he felt odd, but not in pain. He understood how bad his accident had been based on the reactions of everyone he saw.

"Everybody's kinda looking at me, asking if I was all right and stuff," he stated. "It was crazy."

His face was completely shattered. He spent five days in intensive care and nearly two weeks total in the and the hospital for 11 before he came home. His jaw is still wired shut and he still has a feeding tube, but he is already talking about a return to the rodeo.

"Hopefully, soon as this gets healed up, I can go back at it and be pretty successful," he said. "Hopefully I'll be able to start getting back on around May, mid-May. I'm gonna just wait until everything's healed up right before I get back on, but hopefully it won't be too long."

The rest of Ramagos' family is less optimistic. He lost nearly half the blood in his body, and doctors told them he would have bled to death if left unattended much longer. But he never had a thought about quitting the sport.

"Oh, no. I don't think there will ever be a time like that," he stated. "Not now, not while I'm young, at least. You'd have to kill me!"

Ramagos said he has watched the footage of his accident, which was taken for him on his cell phone. After he hits the ground, the camera is dropped to the ground, and the shock of the crowd is apparent.

"Good thing is, I got a really good mental game, so I can go back an watch it and actually learn from things I did wrong in it, and look at that," he said. "Now I have something kind of on a mindset I can go back and practice on before I start getting back on." 

The rodeo community gave Ramagos its full support during his recovery, with strangers coming to his hospital room in Florida to wish him well.

"Oh, I've had a lot of cards and stuff, you know, get well cards and stuff like that," he added. "That's really been a huge, huge thing, helped me get through a lot of it."

Some of his family and friends are nervous about Ramagos returning to the rodeo in light of the serious nature of his injuries. But he said the risk is no different now than it was before.

"When you put the money on the table and put your hand in your rope, you're putting yourself at risk no matter what, but you can't even think about it. The moment you start thinking about it, you start getting scared it might happen, then you might as well just hang it up." 

His family set up a Facebook page to show his progress, and established a GoFundme campaign to help cover his medical expenses. While they focus on his recovery, his focus lies on his next victory.

"Oh, yeah, I've already thought about it," he admitted. "I can already feel it. Now I just gotta go do it."

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