Calgary

Injured Stampede chuckwagon driver says 'it's part of the job', vowing to saddle up in 3 to 6 weeks

Chuckwagon driver Obrey Motowylo is "stiff and sore," but otherwise in good spirits just three days after he was ejected from his wagon and run over by it — breaking his scapula — during a Tuesday heat at the Calgary Stampede.

Obrey Motowylo was thrown from his rig, run over and rushed to hospital during chuckwagon races Tuesday

Obrey Motowylo fell under his wagon at the start of Heat 8 on Tuesday night. 3:32

Chuckwagon driver Obrey Motowylo is "stiff and sore" but otherwise in good spirits just three days after he was ejected from his wagon and run over by it — breaking his shoulder blade — during a Tuesday heat at the Calgary Stampede.  

Motowylo was pulled to safety, unconscious, to the middle of the track and taken to hospital following the incident. Just one day later, he was back at the Stampede cheering on his team, and he's been there for every race since. 

The long-time driver told the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday that the last thing he remembers about the accident is the wagon going up on two wheels. 

"The next thing I remember is being in the ambulance and them asking me to move my fingers and move my toes," he said. "In between there, I don't remember hitting the ground or getting run over."

Ethan Motowylo, Obrey's son, is an outrider for his father's outfit. He was on the track that night and witnessed the accident. 

"There is so much going through my head, I was pretty much just in shock that it actually happened. This doesn't happen every day," he said. 

This still image from the video shows the moment Obrey Motowylo, at the bottom of the screen in a yellow jacket, begins to fall out of the wagon at the start of the eighth heat. (CBC Sports)

The senior Motowylo said that from what he's been told, and what he can tell from watching videos, the wheels of the wagon dug in on a sharp turn. His foot slipped of the dashboard, ejecting him and catching his line in the wheels, throwing him under the chuckwagon, which weighs about 510 kilograms (1,125 pounds).

"I got really lucky," he said. 

Once at the hospital he underwent a CT scan, an MRI and multiple X-rays. 

"They said there was no bleeding in the brain, 'You got lucky, you had a vest on.'"

His scapula was fractured and T5 vertebrae was chipped, the 46-year-old told CBC News. 

Motowylo said he was told he'd be stiff and sore and the healing process would take six to eight weeks. But the Albertan said he plans to be back in the saddle sooner than that. 

"I am a quick healer. I'm hoping that in three weeks, I'll be back out there in Strathmore when we start racing back after Stampede," he said. 

"I'm hoping I'm healed good and then I'll go to the doctor, and if I can clear medical, I'll definitely be grabbing the lines and back in the box."

Motowylo said this situation was a "freak accident."

"It probably wouldn't happen, hopefully, for another hundred years to anybody else," he said. 

Ethan echoes his father's tough-as-nails mentality. 

"I'd still do it even though," he said. "I had an accident last year in Strathmore where I was knocked out, and the next day I rode. So, no, I'm not scared to get hurt."

Obrey Motowylo is mic'ed up as he wins Heat 5 4:47

Just because he isn't able to captain the wagon for the rest of Stampede doesn't mean the injured Motowylo isn't chipping in.

"I'm kind of foreman in the barn, which is kind of sad because there are a lot of chores to do," he said, laughing. "Someone has to supervise."

Motowylo said there were two people who made this situation a lot easier on him.

"I just want to thank Codey McCurrach for stepping in and driving my wagon," he said. "We've been friends for a long time — since our pony chuckwagon days — and he's doing a super job."

He also thanked competing chuckwagon racer David Bensmiller for getting off his horse that same race and driving Motowylo's outfit back. 

"It was really cool of him to not finish the race for his own driver and to get my outfit off the track," he said. "The rule that you can help a driver in need and not penalize your own wagon is really good."


About the Author

Lucie Edwardson

Journalist

Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary. In 2018 she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alberta. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson