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Cheyenne 1989-The Last Ride

.
On this page is the story of Lane's last ride, and his death,
at Cheyenne Frontier Days, Cheyenne, Wyoming, on July 30, 1989.

At the bottom of the page is what is known about the bull after Lane's death.

Please understand that this was a very hard page to write.

While the main purpose of this site is to remember Lane,
and all the good things that happened in his life,
I understand why people want to know as much as possible
about what happened to him in Cheyenne. 


I read accounts of that day that are inaccurate, such as:

He was killed in Redding, Ca. (No)

Red Rock killed Lane. (No)

He was thrown from the bull. (No)

He was trampled to death. (No)

He did something wrong and
that caused his death. (No-No-No)

....and I think to myself that Lane deserves better.


Lane deserves the truth.


Here, I explain what happened that day in Cheyenne.

I only wish someone could explain why.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yeah, there's memories I'd just as soon forget 'bout Cheyenne and mud and rain;
Memories that pierce the soul and stir up old, like-new pain.
That reminds me clearly of the cost
We agree to pay when playin' our hand,
And of the good friends we lost,
In the rain, and mud, in July, in Cheyenne.
                                                                ©Tony Engerg
                                                                         from his poem "July In Cheyenne"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On July 30, 1989, 25-year-old bull rider Lane Frost woke up in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

 Lane had a lot of plans and dreams that Sunday morning.
He had the love of his wife and parents, sister and brother.
He had places to go, and new things to begin. 

And he was looking forward to this day. 
It was the last day of Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo
and he was in a good position to win the bull riding event at this prestigious rodeo.

He was happy that his luck seemed to be changing for the better too.
He had a lot of misfortunes lately, in fact he was riding with a mouth guard 
and he still wore braces on his teeth from a bad wreck in Texas in June.

But on Wednesday at Cheyenne he had a great ride. He was currently in second place.

After Lane rode his second bull at Cheyenne Frontier Days that Wednesday,
sportscaster George Michael, a frequent interviewer and friend of Lane, spoke with Lane,
in what sadly would become Lane's last interview.

George said to Lane,
"But you just had to give the crowd a thrill with that dismount!"

(Lane had somersaulted over the tail of the bull at the end of his ride.)


And Lane replied, with that huge grin of his with words that would become
truer than anyone could imagine in only four days,

"Well, I don't always ride that good,
but I can usually get off pretty exciting
or do something afterwards."

His life was changing for the better outside of rodeo too. 
His marriage to Kellie was growing stronger and happier. 
They were working through the loneliness and their conflicts of being apart, 
because Lane traveled so much to compete in rodeos and pursue the World Championship.
The first part of 1988 was a bad time for them, 
but both had learned to do some compromising and adjusting, 
and the last 10 months were the best of their marriage. 

Lane and Kellie were looking for land to build a ranch, 
run a bull riding school, start raising bulls, and start a family.

They had found a great piece of property in Oklahoma, 
almost exactly halfway between Lane's parents and Kellie's parents, 
and were waiting for word of a bank loan that should be coming through any day now. 
They had a small herd of cows and bulls at Lane's dad's ranch.
They would start their own ranch, and the school, 
help out his parents with their ranch, and not travel so much.

Right after Cheyenne, he was planning on joining Kellie in Oklahoma to do some
stunt work on a film. 
He was going to be the stunt bull rider for the star of the movie.
He had looked forward to working on a movie for a long time,
ever since he had watched the filming of "Lonesome Dove".

And he, Tuff and Cody had recently finished doing some advertising photos 
for a major western clothing chain.

Lane had even just begun marketing his own bull riding spurs,
he had just started ads in rodeo magazines for them.

Yes, on July 30, 1989 Lane Frost had a lot of plans and dreams.
He had the love of his wife and parents, sister and brother.

He had places to go, and new things to begin. 

At 3:30 PM, in chute # 7, his bull rope wrapped tightly around his hand,  
seated on the large, snorting brindle bull "Takin' Care Of Business"
Lane nodded his head and gave his familiar
"OK boys, OK boys!"   

In less than 15 seconds Lane Frost was gone from this world forever.

Below is the story.

"We don't miss you any less, Lane. It doesn't hurt any less."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Leaving the Gate
.
The gate opens, and Lane begins his ride
Cheyenne~ July 30, 1989
.
The ride begins.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

Sunday, July 30, 1989, 3:30 PM. 

Cheyenne Frontier Days 1989 was in it's last day.
The arena grandstand was packed, for this was the short-go of the bull riding competition.
Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo is one of the biggest events in the PRCA.
Often referred to as the "Daddy Of Them All", it is a popular rodeo,
and a favorite one to compete at and win.

The sky was overcast, a grey sky that stretched forever under the wide open spaces.
The bull riders that were behind the chutes wore yellow slickers
while they watched and waited.

The arena was muddy, it had rained for a couple of days before.
The ankle-deep mud made it hard for the bull fighters,
(back then still called rodeo clowns),
Bobby Romer and Rick Chatman, and barrel man Quail Dobbs.

The crowd was celebrating because Marty Staneart just completed an 8 second ride
on Mr T, a black and white bull that up until then, had not been ridden.


Lane Frost, #267, was up next.
In chute number 7, he was getting ready to ride
Bad Company's bull, "Takin' Care of Business".
Earlier he had told some friends he
"knew he had drawn a bad bull."
Lane had drawn this bull before, and it bucked him off about a month earlier in San Angelo, TX.

But, as was typical with Lane, he considered this bull another challenge, 
and looked forward to trying him again.
During the week he had successfully completed
his rides on his other two bulls, and was currently listed in second place.

Lane had not been having a good year. 
His mom remembers reading the bi-monthly rodeo paper and for the first time in a long time
not seeing her son's name listed in the top 15 bull riders.

Maybe, he thought, his luck was starting to turn around. 
It was only the end of July, with hard work and a lot of traveling 
he could still make the Finals in December.

He nodded his head, gave his famous phrase,
"OK boys! OK boys!"
and the huge gate swung open into an arena full of mud and muck.

For 8 seconds Lane rode his bull. He hung on for every one of the bull's jumps,
balanced for every one of the bull's spins. 
The bull, turned and spun his muscular body 
and tossed his head with the massive horns, 
furiously trying his best to throw the lanky rider, but couldn't do it..
Lane's score was 85, he would win third at this rodeo.

But Lane would never know, Lane won a check he would never see.

At the end of 8, Lane let go of the rope, and rolled off of the bull's left hindquarters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the bull riding video Bull Talk, Lane describes how he likes
to get off of a bull over it's side, near it's rear.

"That way," he says in the video, "the bull is moving
away from the rider and this gives the bullfighters a 
chance to distract it, and the rider a chance to get away."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But that didn't happen today.
As soon as Lane let go of his rope and rolled off to the left of the bull,
dismounting just the way he liked to,
the bull quickly pivoted, and changed directions to the left, and was at Lane's back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What happened next happened very fast.
Some of it is still difficult to make out, even on the video tapes.

But it isn't an even match-up between
a 145 pound man
and a 2000 pound long-horned bull.

In slow motion, the attack took about 7 seconds.
Almost the length of a bull ride.
In real life, it took Lane's life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Lane wasn't standing yet, he had just landed in the slippery, slick mud,
and was raising himself up on his hands and knees, keeping his eyes on the bull.

He knew the bull was there, right there, charging at him from behind.
He tried to scoot away, but his cowboy boots
gave him no traction on the muddy ground.

He tried to lunge forward fast, but the bull was faster.
The bull hit Lane with his head, either in the back of Lane's legs, or his seat,
and knocked Lane flat on the ground.

Lane turned on his right side,
trying to keep his eyes on this animal that weighed a ton.
Then he started to curl up.
If he couldn't get away, then he knew he had to make himself as small as possible.
Lane was 5' 11" and he once said that
"being taller than most bull riders
also means that there is more of me for a bull to hook."



The bull, still agitated and moving forward, never stopping, turned and dipped his head,
and pushed his right horn into Lane's left side.
The horn did not break skin, 
but it hit Lane hard enough and long enough, to slide him forward on the muddy ground.

The bull, still moving, bucked and jumped over the fallen rider, 
and was waved away by the bull fighters.
As the bull bucked over Lane the last time,
Lane's bull rope fell off the bull, and draped over him.


Lane quickly got to his feet and, holding his left arm stiffly at his side,
he began a slow jog back to the gates. He motioned with his right arm for help.

But before anyone, other than Bobby Romer,
one of the bull fighters, could reach him, he collapsed on the ground.

It is said that Lane's heart stopped beating then,
although they tried to revive him at the arena, and at the hospital.

Although the bull's horn had not broken
through Lane's skin, the horn had broken his ribs.

It is assumed that the broken ribs severed a main artery.
No autopsy was done.

At 3:30 PM
Lane's "OK boys. OK boys!" opened the gate and began the ride.

At 3:59 PM Doctors at Memorial Hospital pronounced Lane Frost dead.

Years later, in 1997 when I talked with the nurses, they said
 that the doctors at that hospital in Cheyenne
still remember the day they tried to save Lane Frost.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lane was the second-to-last rider.
His friend, Jim Sharp was the last one up.
No announcement was made to the spectators regarding Lane's condition,
but many of them noticed the ambulance
left for the hospital slowly, without using its sirens.

Tuff Hedeman, Lane's best friend and traveling partner, 
accompanied Lane to the hospital.
He had a hard time believing what happened.
The wreck didn't look bad.
He had seen Lane be in a lot worse situations and get up and walk away.

Lane's teeth were still wired, and he rode that day with a mouth guard,
from a worse-looking wreck a month earlier in Fort Worth.

But in his heart he knew.

He knew it was bad,  he knew it was worse than bad,
because he was one of the first ones to get to Lane in the arena,
and when they turned Lane over, he didn't think Lane was breathing.

It was Tuff who had to make the call to Lane's Mom and Dad back in Oklahoma.

And Tuff who called Lane's wife Kellie, who for the very first time,
did not go to Cheyenne Frontier Days.

And Tuff who cleaned the mud off Lane's chaps and boots.

And it was Tuff, who, for the last time, 
along with Cody Lambert, 
traveled with Lane back home to Oklahoma the next morning, 
in a plane chartered by Cheyenne Frontier Days committee.

Next Chapter: The Days After Cheyenne

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Cheyenne
Lane rides the bucking and leaping bull for the 8 seconds.
.
Cheyenne
.


Whatever happened to that bull?

Bull's names are sometimes changed
for rodeos.

Takin' Care of Business
was the name of the bull that killed Lane.
It has also been reported that the bull's name was
"K. Walsh", MASO, or "Bad to the Bone",
a nickname the riders gave him.

To put all the rumors and misunderstandings
of the bull's name to rest once and for all
Mrs. Frost called Mac Altizer, the owner of
Bad Company Rodeo and the bull, and he stated the bull's name was
"Takin' Care of Business",
and he doesn't know where all the other names came from.

So....that should be the end of those rumors!

Past History

The bull was used in the 1987 National Rodeo Finals,
(Lane did not draw him),
Ted Nuce scored an 80 on him.

He was used in the 1988 National Rodeo Finals,
where he bucked off Gary Toole.
(Again, Lane did not draw him.)

After Cheyenne

There is a conflict of reporting for the
1989 National Rodeo Finals, 5 months after Lane's death.

The bull is not listed in the National Finals Register,
yet a reporter that covered the event for
"The Oklahoman", and wrote about
Lane's bull riding since 1984, said in his article that,
"Erwin Williams was bucked off Bad Company Rodeo's
"Taking Care of Business",
the bull that killed Lane Frost."

It is possible they changed the bull's name
for this event, but the reporter recognized him.

The bull appeared in the 1990 National Rodeo Finals,
and this is the last mention of him.

Update
From a newspaper article in August 2000.

The bull, "Takin' Care of Business," was retired for breeding since the mid-1990s.

"The bull, himself, died last year this weekend.
(Note:This would have been in 1999)
He got arthritis real bad, and they had to put him down. 
It was almost 10 years to the day (that Frost died), which was weird. ... 
In the next few years, there'll be a lot of his babies around."

Next Chapter: The Days After Cheyenne

                                                                                           

     .
.
Check out the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Page for the
answers to some of the most asked questions!

"© Copyright 1999-2013 For Frost Enterprises" All Rights Reserved
Do Not Copy or Reproduce Without Written Permission.

This site began in 1999 in remembrance of Lane Frost and for the Frost Family.
I receive no pay or profit, nor want to,  from my operation of this site.
                                                                ~Sharron~