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Well known Lacoochee barrel racing champion dies after Rodeo accident.

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Well known Lacoochee barrel racing champion dies after Rodeo accident.

Old 03-05-2016, 07:00 AM
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Default Well known Lacoochee barrel racing champion dies after Rodeo accident.



PASCO TRIBUNE

Fall kills Lacoochee rodeo queen Lara Dewees

LACOOCHEE — In this rural Pasco County community, Lara Dewees stood out.

A rodeo queen and national barrel racing champion, an accomplished singer and beloved schoolteacher, Dewees was somewhat of a celebrity in the town of fewer than 2,000 people.
So her death after a Feb. 20 fall while participating in a rodeo in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was all the more shocking.

A leap-year baby, Dewees would have turned 28 years old on Monday. She died from her injuries in a Hattiesburg hospital a few days before her birthday, leaving her lifelong friends and close-knit family devastated.
“This was a real tragedy,” said Don Surrency, who attends First Baptist Church of Lacoochee with Dewees’ family and watched her grow up. “Everybody here knew her. We’re just all broken up.”

A third-generation rodeo competitor, Dewees was riding horses before she could walk, said her grandmother, Jeanette Sasser.
“She got her first horse when she was 3,” said Sasser. “She grew up in the saddle and she just loved the rodeo.”
She had first-rate mentors.
Her uncle, Spunk Sasser, 50, is the second-most-decorated cowboy in the Southeastern Rodeo Circuit. Her father, Steve Dewees, was a rodeo calf roper. And her mother, Lisa Belcher, was a barrel racer.

So it didn’t surprise anyone when Dewees followed suit, competing in Southern Junior Rodeo Association events and serving as rodeo queen in the eighth grade. She also wore the sash of Miss Pasco County Fair and Miss Florida Rodeo.

“She was just a tiny thing and always so feminine,” Sasser said. “But when she got on her horse to compete, she was a different person.”




Even while competing in rodeos throughout the South, she was an A student in high school, graduating ninth in her class from Pasco County High School in 2006. “She loved school,” said Sasser. “I think she would have been a professional student if she could have.” After graduation, Dewees attended Saint Leo University for two years, switched to Texas A&M University for six months and completed her teaching degree at McNeese State University in St. Charles, Louisiana, before returning to Lacoochee to begin teaching for the Hernando County School District.

She taught history at Webster Middle School and later high school students enrolled in Hernando County’s online school. “She was an only child and was probably a bit spoiled,” Sasser said. “She loved being near me and her mama. We were a threesome. We went everywhere together.” Despite her travels competing in rodeos, Sasser said Dewees felt most comfortable in Lacoochee, living with her family and attending First Baptist Church of Lacoochee whenever she was home.

After she won her 10th national championship, a friend advised her to say she was from Dade City because it sounded more prestigious than Lacoochee. (“We’re not country bumpkins but we’re next in line,” Sasser said.)
But Dewees would not deny her roots. “She was raised in Lacoochee and was proud of her community,” Sasser said. “I told her it didn’t matter where she was from. You can be from Timbuktu. It’s not where you’re from; it’s where you’re going.” -






On Feb. 20, Dewees was competing with her newest horse, Genny, when she dropped the reins and they flew over the animal’s head. Just as she trained to do, Genny, continued circling the barrels and, when she finished, she headed toward the arena’s exit gate.

The gate should have been closed to prevent the horse, which had been shod with shoes specifically intended for running on dirt, from accessing the asphalt driveway, Sasser said.

Genny slipped on the asphalt and Dewees, without the reins to keep her on the horse, flew off, landing on her face.

Dewees was recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain when she took a turn for the worse on Thursday, Feb. 25, Sasser said. “The doctors are thinking it was another blood clot.”
Before she died, Dewees was trying to retain her 2015 title as the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Southeastern Circuit Divisional Tour Finals Reserve Champion.

“She rode into glory,” Sasser said. “Lara was our life. I don’t know how we’re going to go on without her.”

More than 500 well-wishers are expected to attend. Her barrel-racing friends will follow behind the casket on their horses. Everyone attending is asked to wear purple in Dewees’ honor.

A Go Fund Me account has been set up to offset Dewees’ medical expenses at www.gofundme.com/laradewees.

Last edited by semperfifishing; 03-05-2016 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 03-05-2016, 07:02 AM
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i grew up on a cattle operation and in school we had rodeo instead of football primarily. easy to get hurt or killed doing rodeo stuff. sad for this gal and her family
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Old 03-05-2016, 08:11 AM
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Sad story. She sounds like quite a woman.
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Old 03-05-2016, 09:46 AM
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When and if I ever see Jesus, my very first question will be:

"only the good die young"'. What's up with that!

Sounds like a great young lady, who gave back in spades! Good for her! Mourn her loss but celebrate her life and always keep her alive in your memories.

God speed young lady!
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Old 03-05-2016, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by spraynet 1 View Post
When and if I ever see Jesus, my very first question will be:

"only the good die young"'. What's up with that!

Sounds like a great young lady, who gave back in spades! Good for her! Mourn her loss but celebrate her life and always keep her alive in your memories.

God speed young lady!
Well said.
R.I.P.
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Old 03-05-2016, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by spraynet 1 View Post
"only the good die young"'. What's up with that!
At the rate I'm going, I'll be too old to remember to ask...

Sad for her family and friends.
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Old 03-05-2016, 05:21 PM
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This is very sad news as I grew up near Lacoochee (did I just admit that?) and knew the family well. Never met her, but just about every Saturday night when I was 12-15 yrs old, we used to ride our dirt bikes through our back pasture, then hop the fence and cross the road to hang out at the rodeo. I wanted to be like Spunk and his brother, Skeeter (who names their kids Spunk and Skeeter?), as they were 2 & 3 yrs older than myself and I used to always watch them. Had many memories from that rodeo, tried Copenhagen for the first time ( took about two seconds before the world started spinning, I turned green and hit the ground and then started throwing up profusely) and even tried riding a bull once, that only lasted about 3 seconds, if that.....they made it look so easy. Didn't know her, but that family would do anything for anyone and were the nicest people you could ever meet. My heart goes out to them, I know they were close.
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