DUDLEY, Mo. -- An incoming Three Rivers College team roper was injured and one of his horses killed when his truck and trailer ran off U.S. 60, then struck a bridge, near Dudley on Thursday afternoon.
The accident happened at about 3:40 p.m. on U.S. 60, almost a mile east of Dudley, and left Clayton T. Ratliff, 18, with moderate injuries.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Ratliff was operating a 2010 Ford pickup, which was pulling a four-horse trailer, eastbound when it ran off the left side of the road into the median and then struck a bridge and ditch.
Ratliff, who had to be extricated from his truck, was flown to Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau for treatment.
"I was there when he first ran off the road into the ditch," explained Caleb Johns of Dudley. "I was one of the first ones down there in the ditch with him."
Johns said Ratliff initially was unconscious when he and a couple of other men first got to the teen and began attempting to get him out of his truck.
Ratliff's truck, according to Johns, apparently "came off the median, ran off in the ditch, hit the side of the bridge and came down into the ditch."
Johns said it appeared the "truck wrapped around him. The dash was crushed up on him."
After a short time, "he came to, screaming, wanting to get out," Johns said.
A crew with the Dexter Fire Department was the first on the scene, and began "trying to get organized" to prepare to extricate him, Johns said.
"A medic just happened to be driving by and saw it; he was keeping (Ratliff) from moving his neck," Johns said.
There were two horses inside Ratliff's trailer, one of which was killed on impact, Johns said. "The other was still alive, but it was in a bind and couldn't get up," he said.
Firefighters, he said, had to cut the doors off the back of the trailer.
A veterinarian from the Stoddard Animal Clinic at Dexter came to the scene and administered some shots to help with soreness and to keep the swelling down, Johns said.
Johns said he took the horse to their farm, where they walked it around the yard, trying to keep it from laying back down.
Emergency personnel, he said, contacted Ratliff's family in Cape Girardeau, and the teen's brother came down and picked up the horse.
Ratliff's two dogs apparently jumped from wreckage and weren't found Thursday, but "they found them (Friday) morning," Johns said.
In speaking with Ratliff's brother, Johns said, he learned the teen, who was heading home from riding in Van Buren, Mo., suffered a broken femur and a couple of other broken bones, but "nothing real bad."
"He's a team roper; he's on the team at (Three Rivers College) as well," Johns said. "A couple of weeks ago in Cheyenne, Wyo., he was eighth in the nation in team roping on the horse I took."
TRC's rodeo coach, Cale Emmett, said Ratliff placed in the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo.
Ratliff and his partner, Corey Baremore of Marble Hill, Mo., finished eighth in the final average standings with a time of 34.57.
This is going to be Ratliff's first semester and first year on the team, Emmett said.
"He had just started; we had actually had our first team meeting" earlier in the week, he said.
Ratliff, Emmett said, has had "a lot of success in National High School Rodeo. We're looking forward to him having a good year in college rodeo.
"He's a real asset to the program … with his rope ability and knowledge of rodeo."
Team members, Emmett said, are praying for him, and "hopefully, he'll have a speedy recovery. … He's very lucky."