British Columbia

Rodeo community mourns death of young bull rider

The rodeo community reacts to news of Merritt-based professional bull rider Ty Pozzobon's death.

Merritt-based professional bull rider Ty Pozzobon died on Monday; he was 25 years old

Merritt, B.C. bull rider Ty Pozzobon has died at age 25. (Ty Pozzobon/Facebook)

The news that champion bull rider Ty Pozzobon died Monday has shocked the rodeo community in the B.C. Interior.

"Ty was probably the best known figure in the Nicola Valley," said family friend Shane Smith. "Everyone was pretty darn proud of him and his accomplishments."

Ty Pozzobon was the 2016 Pro Bull Riders Canada champion and four-time PBR World finalist. (Ty Pozzobon/Facebook)

Pozzobon was one of Canada's top bull riders. He started riding professionally at the age of 16.

He was the 2016 Pro Bull Riders Canada champion and finished fourth at the 2016 Professional Bull Riders world finals in Las Vegas in November.

"There was no arrogance in him. He was just a nice, nice kid, nice parents," Smith said.

Pozzobon was known as the town of Merritt's "favourite son."

In a statement, the Pozzobon family asked that in lieu of flowers, people make donations to the Rider Relief Fund, which provides financial assistance to people injured in the bull riding industry.   

"It's important that people know about the implications of head injuries as a result of concussions," said Leanne Pozzobon, Ty's mother, in a statement. 

'The whole city is in mourning'

Late last year, Merritt city council unanimously approved a motion to acknowledge Pozzobon on the city's welcome sign.

Merritt city council voted to add Ty Pozzobon's name to the Merritt Welcomes You sign in November, 2016. (Google Maps)

The motion to add "Home of Professional Bull Rider Ty Pozzobon" to the sign was put forward by Councillor Mike Goetz.

Goetz describes Pozzobon's death as a tragic loss.

"He was such an ambassador for the community and just a young man that had everything going [for him]. The whole city is in mourning right now."

Merritt RCMP say Pozzobon's death is not considered suspicious. His body was found Monday morning at his home. The B.C. Coroners Service and the RCMP continue to investigate.

Shane Smith said Pozzobon's death is "proof to me that everyone can battle demons."

Tributes for the bull rider have been pouring in on social media today, including from Premier Christy Clark.

Goetz said it's too early to say what the City of Merritt will do to remember and honour Ty Pozzobon, but he said "I think people should know that this community loved him and they will miss him."

The Professional Bull Riders association based in the United States has plans to recognize and celebrate Pozzobon's life this weekend in Chicago.